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January 06, 2016


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Two things I can think of are the filibuster and the Supreme Court.

If the Republicans win and retain their majority on the Senate (without getting to 60), then they're likely to remove the filibuster on legislation, which changes some calculations in terms of their ability to deliver on Obamacare or taxes.

On the Supreme Court, a Republican President would surely see Scalia (84 in 2020) and Kennedy (84) step down so they can be replaced by younger Republicans. That would entrench the Republican majority for as long as Thomas (72) stays - probably another 15-20 years. And it's possible that Ginsburg (87) or Breyer (82) might have to resign or die, which would give a 6-3 court to the Republicans.

A Democratic President (ie Clinton) would probably replace both Ginsburg and Breyer, which would put four under-66 (Sotomayor's age on Election Day in 2020) Democratic appointments onto the court. If they got lucky and one of the Republicans has to leave during the Clinton term, then that would flip the court to a Democratic majority.

Obviously, the nature of the Senate will affect the ideological disposition of the nominees, but even a relatively moderate Democratic or Republican nominee is going to be very different. And I can't see a Senate, even a Republican Senate, just refusing to confirm anyone.

The ideological polarisation of America is going to have a major effect on SCOTUS decisions on things like the Voting Rights Act, on labor issues, on Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and, of course, on abortion.

I think we need to rate the President Trump scenario as least as highly as the possibility of any other Republican winning, so my assessment of how consequential this election is would have mostly to do with that.

If Hillary Clinton becomes President, I expect something close to the status quo. She might be slightly more interventionist on foreign policy. A liberal-majority Supreme Court is possible, but the Senate Republicans might try to block any Supreme Court appointments for the entire length of Clinton's term in office, just leaving vacancies empty. The House of Representatives is not flipping any time soon, so real legislative gains for Democrats are unlikely.

I'd say that I think there's an argument (that I made) that the Clean Power Plant isn't as safe as your original perspective and I think I assign a greater importance to solid implementation in the early years. But that's a minor quibble.

On taxes, I do worry about a reconciliation tax bill (Remember how Bush got his tax cuts in the first time) that leads to some undesirable outcomes, but I'll admit my concerns are disjointed. Are we going to see interest rates rising? Do I want the deficit expanding at a time of increasing interest rates? What does that do for pressure on spending elsewhere? What sort of political headache does that create for the President in 2027?

I worry about the foreign policy side.

So I think for me I see the Republican outcome as similar to the Bush Presidency. An era of squandered opportunity, particularly on dealing with climate change. Deficits to help the rich instead of investing in America. Neglect of crucial areas of need like education and infrastructure (and maybe backwards progress on health care). Further radicalization of the Supreme Court (other comments).

It's not a disaster but I don't think the US is in a position where it can just tread water and hope for the best.

Like Logan, I worry about what wars a Republican Presidency would start or intensify.

Otherwise, agree that a Republican Presidency is Bush II redux, except that I'd say that it's worse (of course I would), as it's a party less interested in governing and public policy. I worry about weirder subvariants, like "Republican Party so fucked that Democratic votes rescue Speaker Ryan from debt ceiling clusterfuck."

Imagine the chance to scale Flint up to a national level.

Just what wars could a Republican presidency start or intensify at this point?

I'm not sure if Afghanistan would be such a priority anymore. Libya would seem unlikely (why would they get involved?)....Yemen maybe could see intensification in terms of graduating from drone use to full blown aerial bombardment. Iraq could likewise see an intensification of the campaign against ISIS (but that might not be a bad thing).

The only places I could see the potential for real trouble would be Syria (launching a war against Assad rather than just against ISIS) and Iran. But starting a war against Iran seems unlikely and even if it did an outright invasion seems extremely unlikely, meaning that any war would be an aerial bombardment along the lines of what happened in Iraq in 1998 with Operation Desert Fox.

I'd assume land wars in Syria and Libya to do battle with ISIS and its franchisees. Dropping 10K ground troops into Syria would give both Assad and ISIS easy targets and easy hostages. They could standfast on the American drawdown in Afghanistan, or pump up the troops there. Widespread carpet bombing, as offered by Ted Cruz, would incite and radicalize plenty of populations across the globe.

In addition, deteriorating relations with Iran would certainly counterproductive to any sort of operations against ISIS in Iraq.

Worse, at its basic level, the GOP is no longer capable of offering and organizing a government that could organize, supply, and purchase war material, let alone plan and execute tactically or strategically.

They can't collectively tell the difference between their passions and their interests and will do something horribly stupid in a shooting war with Iran, not Desert Fox.

Hmm....I dunno...Noel, what's your take?

I can't see even a Republican President putting in large numbers of boots on the ground in Libya to battle ISIS. Maybe special forces.

It also seems difficult to see just how a Republican President is going to to be able to insert troops on the ground in Syria without first staging them through Iraq or Turkey (but going through Turkey means also passing through the Kurdish controlled zone in the north of Syria; and I don't know if Iraq would allow the US to stage an invasion even into ISIS held Syria through its territory without first having the approval of Assad for such a venture).

The carpet bombing scenario is about as loony as it can get and it seems doubtful that it is serious. I would rate it as being about as likely to happen as was an invasion of Iran under George W. Bush and that was the height of Iran war fever (and nothing came of that - because reality got in the way of the fantasies of some).

I'm not seeing an American invasion of ISIS territory without some other provocation. The French seem to have avoided taking the bait. McDevite, I need more: it seems obvious from here that Marco and Ted are just bloviating, while Donald has already ruled out intervention. (Pues, as much as the Donald can be said to have "ruled out" anything.)

Bloviation goes double for "carpet bombing." Cruz was obviously just throwing out tougher-than-thou sound bites. I don't see why you take that seriously.

Can you explain why you think we'd put two brigades on the ground if Cruz or Rubio wins in November?

Because I can no longer trust that this is Republican bloviation for the sake of show, but that it's different sorts of puts that will tie down a President Cruz, President Rubio, or a President Christie and limit their choices in the event of the next San Bernardino or whatever.

It took small events abroad to stampede the House to do all sorts of racist trash to Syrian immigrants. Under unified Republican control, it would be trivial to stampede the House into an AUMF.

A Republican President blessed with the Freedom Caucus, a shitty economy, and some sort of "provocation" at home or abroad could readily fumble into a farce of a war.

The Libya case is easier; our man on the ground calls in support against what he claims is the local ISIS Franchisee. After all the tough talk about beating ISIS, it looks like a light lift; or, like the Russians, they gallop to rescue a third-rate client, and things get worse from there.

The drunken sailor freedom with which they talk about starting shit should be taken deadly seriously, given what happened last time.

Fuck 'em, war isn't Viagra for your flagging campaign.

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