Reasoned political discourse has become an endangered species in the US in recent years, and was certainly conspicuous by its absence in the recent midterm elections. The results were so ambiguous that the pundits and commentators have had a field day trying to make sense of them and even to decide who won and who lost. Paradoxically, the most important change is likely to be that there will not be much change at all:
- On appointments, the House of Representatives has no role. President Trump's choices will continue to sail through the Senate.
- On domestic policy, immigration is primarily the responsibility of the executive as is budgetary and economic policy. The House can make trouble and delay matters but enough moderate Democratic representatives were elected or reelected so that majorities should not be hard to form. Finally, no Congress has acted responsibly on the burgeoning deficit and debt for decades, and there is no reason to think that that situation will change--indeed, it might worsen.
-Foreign policy is largely in the hands of the executive and the Senate. The House of course, has an important role in authorizing the necessary expenditures, but again, moderate Democrats should be sufficient to sustain the military buildup begun by the Trump Administration.
-Finally, policy towards the Middle East in general and Israel in particular, is unlikely to change at all.
So what can the Democrats in the House do? They can hold hearings and initiate investigations and delay measures introduced by the executive--and that's about it. Forget impeachment--not going to happen. The votes aren't there, not to mention the impossibility of a conviction in the Senate. The next two years will be a classic case of "The dogs may bark but the caravan passes."
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The views he expresses are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of "Globes."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 11, 2018
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