A House Divided – How 2018 Midterm Results Will Affect Trump & The GOP
-By Preetam Kaushik
In the end, the much-touted Blue Wave was broken decisively by an imposing Red Wall in the Senate. Despite the best efforts of Obama, Oprah, Taylor Swift and co, the Democrat bid for control of the Congress ultimately failed.
The results of the Midterms are still being counted in some states, but the big picture is largely settled. The progressive-socialist assault on America will have to wait at least a couple of years more, if not longer, much longer. We can now clearly assess the impact of 2018 Midterms on US politics.
Barring a few surprises, the 2018 Midterms played out just as predicted by many: the Democrats managed to retake the House but dropped seats in the Senate. President Trump scored big wins in states like Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and Georgia, with his visits there making a visible impact.
We started the countdown to November 6 as a nation divided, and that status remains deeper than ever if the results are anything to go by. Whatever doubts we may have about the direction this nation is headed in the long-term, these results do clear up any confusion one may have regarding how the next two years of this presidency. And if you are a conservative, there is still hope.
A Blue House Vs Red Senate – How The Numbers Add Up
Let’s start with the good news. The Republicans have extended their majority in the Senate by at least three votes. So we have a pretty solid wall to repel anything the Democrats may throw at us by way of significant policy changes, or direct attacks on the White House.
The House of Representatives is gone, and quite decisively so. With more than 218 seats, the Democrats have a comfortable majority in the other House of the Congress. And that also means that they now have control of the various Congressional Committees. The ones to watch in the next two years are:
Adam Schiff (D-CA) – the House Intelligence Committee Chair
Richard Neal (D-MA) – the House Ways & Means Committee Chair
Eliot Engel (D-NY) – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair
Jerrod Nadler (D-NY) – House Judiciary Committee Chair
They have the power of subpoena, and we will undoubtedly see a repeat of what we saw during the Hillary Clinton-Benghazi row under Obama. The only difference is that a Republican President will be on the firing line this time around, and it will be the Democrats calling the shots, sadly.
Healthcare – No Repeal, Only Reform
There was a good reason why many angry and disillusioned conservatives lambasted the AHCA. It was a golden opportunity to dismantle Obamacare for good before the inevitable progressive pushback. And now that we have finally lost the House, that window of opportunity is long gone.
Democratic leadership in the House has the numbers to block any future Republican attempts to repeal the much hated ACA. So for all practical purposes, Obamacare is here to stay. The President can go down the tried and tested route of executive actions to chip away at that monster, but he will face stiff opposition from a hostile House.
But neither side can afford to let the healthcare situation stagnate. Compromise is on the cards. Bipartisan initiatives, notably concerning the astronomic cost of medication, and the stability of the individual markets might see some success.
Democrats made Healthcare their weapon of choice this Midterms, so they have that burden to bear. And if they continue to alienate the White House and block the legislative process, it might come back to bite them in 2020.
Trump has the upper hand here, and history backs it up. Clinton, of all people, veered into conservative territory when he lost the Congress in 1994. If Trump can make the Democrats offers they cannot afford to ignore or reject, he will be able to capitalize on that success in 2020.
Education – Less Impact On Policy, But More Hassle for DeVos
The issue of education received scant attention during the Midterms in general. There were far too many other explosive issues at stake. But like in most aspects, a Democrat-controlled Congress does spell some kind of trouble for President Trump’s efforts on Education reform as well.
His choice for the top job, Betsy DeVos has made quite some waves in the field during her tenure. Deregulation has been top of her agenda and she has so far managed to power through despite stiff criticism from the Dems. But that was back when they were set on the sidelines in the Congress.
Now, they have the House Education Committee, soon to be led by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), to play with. And they will probably try to pile up pressure on DeVos and her department, using subpoenas and hearings. These could be used to undermine past decisions like the scrapping of gainful employment, to name one.
On the whole, education policy is more focused at the state level, and the change of guard in Congress may not have as much impact on this issue as the results of Governor elections in 2018.
Seven states flipped to the Democrats who now have 23 Governorships to the 26 in the hands of Republics (27 if Kemp wins Georgia). Democrat states will probably see more funding for public schools, while the rest will probably stay true to the conservative cause.
Immigration – More Of The Same, But With Bigger Blue Blockades
Along with healthcare, this issue was at the core of the midterms and probably did its part in solidifying Republican control in the Senate. Like most conservative causes, the short-term outlook for meaningful immigration reform is quite bleak right now.
Even when we had the Congress, President Trump could not get much done there to control illegal aliens. He had to do resort to executive decisions to fulfill his campaign promises. He managed to get a lot of things done in the last two years: travel bans, a reduction in asylum admissions, detention centers, zero tolerance, and troop deployment at the border
All progressives could do was to cry foul, and run to the courts, sometimes to no effect. But now that they finally have some power, especially on funding, they can do some damage. The wrecker-in-chief here will probably be Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) from Trump’s backyard of Manhattan. As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, he will oversee Democratic investigations into Trump’s favored policies.
And unlike in Healthcare, we could be hard pressed to find any bipartisan initiatives purely because of the deep ideological split. Take DACA for instance: the President wants to dismantle it, but the Dems have managed to wrangle a reprieve from the Federal courts. But their luck will run out in the Conservative majority Supreme court.
That will leave the Dems with the option of passing bills to protect DACA. But the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is sure to shoot them down. So any way you look at it, the Congress will probably be stuck in an impasse until 2020. And that suits Trump, as now he has a clear punching bag to blame everything on!
Gun Control, Tax Cuts – The Same Story
The song remains the same as far as issues like gun control, or tax reform is concerned. Another deadly shootout in California right after the midterms has caused many gun control advocates to froth at their mouths. But they don’t have any real chance of pushing through any gun control legislation. The will of the American public has ensured that we have an effective check on progressives/socialists in the Senate.
As for tax cuts, we probably got the best of it through before the window shut this November. While more conservative tax policies would have been welcome, we will have to wait until at least 2020 before we see any significant changes in this field.
Impact On The Presidency
This is the big one as far as the real impact of 2018 midterms is concerned. As we have already seen, Trump will probably have to bid farewell to legislation as a way to Make America Great Again. To get anything done, he will have to reach out to the Democrats, and the success there will depend on how few compromises he can get away with (if any).
But all that is just writing on the walls, if the Democrats mean what they are saying. Though impeachment is no longer a big priority for them (for a good reason, since they don’t have a prayer in the Senate!) there is every indication that they will (mis)use their newfound powers to harass the President.
For years, Democrats have been trying to make a mountain out of a molehill that is President Trump’s tax returns. And now with the power of subpoenas, they will probably try to force the President to reveal his tax information. That hatchet job will be in the hands of Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, the only non-Republican in the Congress with the power to do so.
And since the President will not go down without a fight, this issue could turn into a protracted legal battle. And that is not something the Democrats will look forward to since they will have to use obscure IRS codes to try and force the issue.
The Russia Investigation
The other threat to President Trump is from the Mueller investigation. And things are moving forward at an unexpectedly rapid pace on this front at the moment. Jeff Sessions has finally caved into the demands of the POTUS and resigned, freeing up Trump to appoint somebody who is more critical of Mueller’s overreach.
With the House in their control, Democrats will undoubtedly look to protect the investigation. They have already stated their intention to investigate the firing of Sessions. It seems like their game plan is to try and make this out to be a Constitutional Crisis in the mold of the infamous Saturday Night Massacre under Nixon.
The impact of 2018 midterms will be quite far-reaching for President Trump as well as the future of conservatism in the US. On the one hand, the Senate majority guarantees a conservative hold on the Supreme Court for decades. It also rules out any chance of an impeachment of the President, period.
On the other hand, we can say goodbye to policy reforms via Congress. The Dems are sure to block any Republican initiative. Some issues may see some bipartisan action, but that will probably not occur on lightning rod issues like immigration.
There will be increased scrutiny on President Trump and his appointed officials. Subpoenas and House Committee Hearings will be used to stall, harass, and ultimately bog down all initiatives by this administration/
But the single main threat is the Mueller investigation, now that it gets the partisan backing from the Democrat House. And things have passed into a higher gear with the recent sacking of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
It is too early to tell if this will have any impact on the ultimate fate of the Presidency before 2020. But one thing is for sure, the coming months and years will be anything but peaceful in DC.