Obama’s Coming Showdown With Congress

by Dish Staff

How will the midterms change the balance of power in the Senate? The NYT calculates the odds of various scenarios:

Senate Odds

This week McConnell previewed how a Republican Senate would function:

Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown.

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency.

Beutler doubts his strategy will work:

[W]hat McConnell’s promising makes very little sense. Even if you assume he and the House Speaker can unite their fractious conferences tightly enough to round up majorities for legislation, McConnell would still have a filibuster to contend with. And even if you ignore that obstacle, the political play is a known loser. Republicans controlled both the House and Senate when they shut down the government in 1995, and they lost the fight. Bill Clinton was a bit more popular at the time than Obama is now, but that’s not really what drove the dynamic. It’s just a losing ask to condition basic government services on weakening pollution restrictions or cutting health care spending or whatever. McConnell might be able to extract modest concessions in an appropriations tussle, but nothing big, and nothing along the lines of what conservative members will expect.

Ezra agrees that such tactics would be self-defeating:

McConnell intends to unleash a tactic that will almost inevitably end with shutdowns — whether he wants them or not. This might make sense if Barack Obama were running for reelection in 2016: the shutdown hurt his popularity, too, and perhaps it would make sense for congressional Republicans to mount a kamikaze mission against his third term.

But Obama isn’t up for reelection in 2016. These shutdowns will be a disaster for the Republican Party that will help elect Hillary Clinton — and help Harry Reid retake the Senate. Republicans will end up backing controversial positions with wildly unpopular tactics and the Democrats will take full advantage when they face the friendlier presidential electorate.