While it wasn’t a great night for the country, it wasn’t all bad either. Here are a few things that come to mind.
The republican takeover of the House most likely kills any chances of another stimulus bill. We now know that the stimulus and TARP combined to keep the US from going into a depression, and even many critics have now admitted that they were carried out efficiently. Worldwide, we’ve seen a positive correlation between the amount of government stimulus spending (as a percentage of GDP) and the speed of the recovery. Historically, we can look at Japan in the 90s, where stimulus spending was prematurely cut off whenever the economy seemed to be stabilizing, leading to another crash. I’m not a fan of deficit spending and I was ticked off when republicans blocked democratic attempts to renew pay-go in the early Bush years, but you only pull out of a recession by increasing spending, and if the private sector isn’t doing that, the government needs to; the lack of further stimulus spending will most likely make the recovery an even more drawn out process.
While there was a definite feeling of “throw the bums out” last night (often resulting in putting back into power the people most responsible for the lousy economy), there were some bright spots, as many of the most..er..nutty (Christine O’Donnell) and incompetent (Dan Maes) candidates went down to defeat. In Colorado, John Hickenlooper ran no negative ads whatsoever that I’m aware of, and won by a huge margin; while a lot of that was being lucky enough to run against two incredibly bad candidates (Dan Maes and Tom Tancredo), it’s still nice to see someone get a majority of the vote with a clean campaign.
In the Senate, republicans have spent the last two years filibustering pretty much everything in an attempt to avoid giving Obama any victories, regardless of the cost to the country. If we’re lucky, they might now be forced to start cooperating with democrats in order to get votes on bills passed by the republican-controlled House. Last time the republicans were in control over there, they refused to bring anything to the floor unless it could be passed solely with republican votes; it’ll be instructive to see if anything has changed.
Overall, a depressing night, but with some hope for the future. We’ll see what happens.