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Monday, November 01, 2010

What to Expect Next Year

There may still be some surprises, but one thing appears certain - the GOP will hold more seats in Congress next year, they will continue to hold a strong majority in the Florida legislature (and may even achieve a veto-proof, supermajority), and the Florida Senate will replace the Florida House as the most radical body in Tallahassee (virtually all the moderate Republicans who once slowed down some of the radicalism are termed out this year and will be replaced by radical Republicans).

We can expect Senate President Haridopolous to try and gut education and infrastructure to pay for some sort of tax cut. The ostensible reason will be to improve growth and create jobs, but there is little doubt it will fail miserably. That strategy has been used for over a decade now and has been an unqualified failure. In the late nineties, the Clinton economic boom and then the real estate bubble that grew in George W. Bush's two terms help paper over what was going on in Florida, but when things went pear shaped, we had nothing to fall back on.

Funny story - as much as rich folks like a good tax cut, it turns out that good paying jobs are actually more closely tied to educational achievement and investment in infrastructure. That's why Florida is home to the HQ of 12 Fortune 500 companies, while the much more highly taxed and regulated New Jersey is home to 21 Fortune 500 company headquarters. It's also why "Taxachussetts" has an unemployment rate of 8.4%, while Florida's is 11.9%. It's why Wikipedia left St. Petersburg and moved to a more heavily taxed and regulated community in Northern California.

But, with radical new leadership, we can hardly expect such things to interfere with Tallahassee's plans for the rest us.

Nationally, the big question is when the Tea Party enthusiasm ebbs. And make no mistake, it will ebb, because the GOP establishment has no intention of giving them what they want. So-called Tea Party candidates who win tomorrow will be almost universally marginalized, except for those that can be co-opted (Marco Rubio is likely to be among the latter) into the usual backroom deals and politics. Lip service will be given to Tea Party ideals, but the actual business of governing will be handled in conjunction with the usual corporate lobbyists. Former Senator, master of pork barrel spending, and now uber-lobbyist, Trent Lott, will be far more influential than figures like Sharron Angle, Allen West, and Ken Buck, even if they win the election.

The results will, in time, be similar to what happened to moderates, disappointed that healthcare legislation did not go far enough and Latinos, disappointed that immigration reform was stonewalled in the Senate. They did not become Republican (just as Tea Parties will not become staunch Dems), but they did become disaffected in this election. Whether this will happen in time for 2012 or whether insensate anger against Obama keeps them in line for one more election, is up in the air, of course.

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