National issues, economy pose problems for Colorado Democrats
So this is what 2004 felt like. I mean this is what it felt like to be a Democrat when George W. Bush was re-elected.
I remember watching the returns with a group of Democrats and remember the stunned disbelief that President Bush was about to be returned to office.
None of them could believe it. His job-performance numbers were way down, he was unpopular with large portions of the population and the subject of almost constant protests from the left. There was even a permanent encampment of war protesters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, as well as popular movies out about what a clueless and duplicitous person he was. But he was back again. Impossible.
It looks like President Barack Obama has been returned to office by about the same percentage of voters as President Bush. Republicans are going through the same rending of garments and cannibalistic behavior Democrats went through in 2004 and 1994, when pundits declared the election results disastrous and there were endless discussions of how to make their party more viable.
The only times much has been done in that area was probably in 1979 by Ronald Reagan, followed in 1991 by Bill Clinton, who, as part of the Democratic Leadership Conference, pushed his party toward the center to get himself elected.
The problem for this president involves less politics than economics. Shortly, he will run out of other people’s money and will have to figure out how to fulfill his pledge on what really won the election: promising to deliver entitlements.
Taxes, no matter how popular with those who receive more of them than they pay, will not solve the deficit, of which Obama is the proud owner. He owns the four largest deficits in American history, which are of a size such that, even if he seized the assets of everyone who makes more than $250,000 per year, it would barely make a dent.
On top of this, in two years he must confront the problems of midterm elections, which are notoriously bad for a second-term president’s party. Just look at 2006 and 2010.
You see that problem in the person of Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who has managed to exist as a chameleon up until now. But with re-election looming in 2014, he’s going to be forced to take positions.
He was on a cable news show about 10 days ago talking about Libya and looked so uncomfortable I thought he might bolt from the room. I’ve never seen a duck trying to swallow a plate, but that was what appeared to be his level of comfort as he tried to answer questions without taking any positions.
Moreover, structural change is inevitable in any second-term administration, and the president’s Cabinet will change, which creates all sorts of problems choosing replacements.
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar will likely be in this year’s jetsam, and it will be hard to find someone as damaging to energy production. I wonder if the former CEO of Solyndra is busy.
There’s also a timing problem that many have forgotten. However, if you’re Sen. Udall or one of Colorado’s Democratic members of Congress you would be aware: The Obamacare taxes, penalties and regulations truly begin to kick in this January and do so completely in 2014.
The plan is so expensive, as Betsy McCaughey pointed out this week in the New York Post, that “it adds $1.79 per hour to the cost of a full-time employee. That’s incidental if you’re hiring neurosurgeons but a hefty increase for hiring busboys and sales clerks.”
And there’s more. The requirement to comply with the new law or be fined applies to businesses with more than 50 full-time employees. A full-time employee is defined in the legislation as anyone receiving more than 30 hours of employment each week. It doesn’t take much of a prophet to anticipate businesses with 51 employees cutting to 49 and larger ones beginning to have lots of employees working 28 or 29 hours per week. This really can affect a state like Colorado, which isn’t exactly running over with hedge fund managers and software entrepreneurs.
In short, this can become a real problem for Colorado Democrats, who will be forced to defend the fully implemented legislation. The question is: Will Colorado Republicans be able to capitalize on this circumstance or will they turn the ball over yet again?
Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.