Streetwise Professor

January 6, 2010

Hit the Road, Jack, and Dontcha’ Come Back No Mo’

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 11:20 am

One of the protagonists of “Fannie and Freddie Have Two Fathers,” Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, has announced he will not stand for re-election.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the financial market “reform” slouching through Dodd’s committee.  It could cut multiple ways.  In the end game, the incentives of other senators (and of representatives, when it comes to reconciling House and Senate bills) to cooperate with Dodd decrease, but by the same token, his incentive to compromise/deal on this bill in anticipation of reciprocity on some other matter in the future declines too.  So, I don’t have a directional view on how this will affect his committee’s bill’s prospects, but I would buy a straddle on it because it makes the prospects more volatile.

Along with Dorgan’s similar announcement, and the likelihood of other sudden urges among senators and representatives to spend more quality time with families and the likely losses of others (e.g., Harry Reid), Dodd’s retirement signals that 2010 will be a wild political year.  Especially with the increased odds that the Democrats will not be able to maintain a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, they will view this year as a rapidly closing window of opportunity to enact their agenda.  Hence, I expect a series of banzai charges on a variety of fronts, from health care (assuredly), to cap-and-trade (likely but not certainly), stimulus (high probability), and perhaps even immigration.

This will all take place in the midst of what already promised to be a bitterly contentious 2010 campaign.  Normally, one would expect that rising unpopularity would lead to a trimming of these ambitions.  But this will not be a normal year.  I would actually expect that the Dems will become more frantically committed to implementing their agenda by means fair or foul, the more dire their electoral prospects become.

Time to strap it on, folks.  It’s going to be a wild year.

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  1. While the administration may try to push a series of “banzi” charges, the atmosphere of political change may well temper the aggressiveness of many House Democrats, lest they get caught up in the political change. I think the closer we get to the election, the less most House Democrats will be willing to do anything that might stay in the minds of the voters. The rank and file Democrats do not have much incentive to turn out in large numbers, but the rank and file conservatives have a lot of incentive to do so. Not giving an independent voter a reason to show up at the polls or to vote against an incumbent that participated in a “banzi” charge will be the way many close races will be won by Democratic incumbents.

    My favorite race at the moment is Texas CD 18 where Queen Sheila has a primary fight looming. This should be entertainng.

    Comment by Charles — January 6, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Oh my, a world without SJL is a beautiful world indeed!

    I believe this is going to lead to a lot of posturing and then…. nothing, no cap and trade, no immigration reform, minimal stimulus (both sides have an incentive to push this through before november). Ergo, more of the same.

    Comment by Jack — January 6, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  3. Normally I’d agree with you Charles, but the vulnerable House Democrats will be under tremendous pressure from the leadership. The leadership and the party can hold money over the heads of those in competitive races, and could lose their base if they defect.

    Maybe banzai charge isn’t the best analogy. Perhaps it’s more akin to WWII on the Russian front, when Soviet penal battalions had the Germans in front of them and NKVD machine gunners behind them, ready to mow them down if they didn’t attack. Most chose to go forward rather than get cut down by their own.

    In short, it will suck to be a “Blue Dog” in 10 months.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 6, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

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