November 23, 2004


Ambitious Goals Will Test GOP's New Muscle (Janet Hook, November 23, 2004, LA Times)

Republicans may have picked up only a handful of seats in Congress on election day, but they have been acting ever since as if they'd been carried by a conservative landslide.

Emboldened Republicans have strengthened the hand of their conservative leadership and have brought moderate colleagues to heel. In last week's postelection session of Congress, they jammed an antiabortion rider into the last budget bill of the year.

And Republican leaders, apparently undeterred by the fact that they still will have a relatively narrow majority when the new Congress opens in January, embraced President Bush's ambitious second-term agenda of overhauling Social Security and the tax code.

"My fellow conservatives, we have waited our entire lives for the chance the American people have given us in the next two years," a triumphant House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said in a recent speech to a conservative group. "I pledge to each and every one of you, we will seize it." [...]

A key question is whether Bush and his expanded Republican majorities will overreach their mandate. Democrats blazed that path in 1992, when President Clinton was elected with a Democrat-controlled Congress — and failed spectacularly to overhaul the healthcare system.

Republicans fell into the same trap when they took control of Congress in the 1994 elections for the first time in 40 years. They came to power with conservative guns blazing; a year later they took a political drubbing for a budget fight with Clinton that temporarily shut down part of the government. Many Republicans are eager to avoid that kind of mistake.

The problem for Republicans in '95 was not overreach but chickening out--had they kept the government closed another week Bill Clinton was prepared to buckle and the realignment we're in now would have been hastened by eight years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 23, 2004 9:18 AM

Funny. They think that 55 Senate seats, 20+ electoral votes, and 3.5M popular votes don't give Republicans the right to rule------but a 50/50 split plus one defector gave them the right to.

Posted by: ray at November 23, 2004 6:55 PM

"...not overreach but chickening oput..."

Truer words have rarely been written, especially if you meant 'out' rather than 'oput.'

Posted by: Richard Donley at November 24, 2004 9:25 AM