Congress and The Mighty Task

The rollercoaster ride continues today.  While market behavior may harken memories of 2008, it is certain to resonate with lawmakers as they ready for what may be another swing election.  Charlie Cook in his recent National Journal Off To The Races column speculates on what it could mean for 2012.

So what about the politics of 2012? One way of looking at next year’s elections is to say that unlike 2006 and 2008, when voters were angry at Republicans, and 2010, when they shifted their animus toward Democrats, the anger today seems more oriented toward everyone in Congress, the gridlock seems more systemic, and the solution less partisan. The lowly 14 percent approval (82 percent disapproval) for Congress in the August 2-3 CBS News/New York Times poll of 960 adults (with a 3-point error margin) was underscored by only 15 percent thinking most members of Congress deserve reelection and 75 percent don’t think that most deserve reelection.

But unlike the last three elections, the anger is twice as bad as in either of those because in each of those, the animosity was focused on one party, benefiting the other. Voters are now either angry or disappointed in both sides. When 72 disapprove of “the way Republicans in Congress have handled the negotiations on the debt ceiling,” (just 21 percent approved) and the only marginally better 66 percent disapproval for the way Democrats handled it (28 percent approval), it should be a warning to both parties to tread very carefully.

In an effort to get serious about putting the US fiscal house in order, Senators Reid and McConnell and Rep. Boehner announced their picks for the 12-member debt panel.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not yet announced her choices.  The panel is tasked with finding more budget cuts by November.  The chairs of the panel will be Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Senate Democrats

Max Baucus (MT)

John Kerry (MA)

Patty Murray (WA) Chair

Senate Republicans

Jon Kyl (AZ)

Rob Portman (OH)

Pat Toomey (PA)


House Republicans

Dave Camp (MI)

Jeb Hensarling (TX) Chair

Fred Upton (MI)


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