The Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph, Nov. 9, 2012
For some Americans, we suspect it is easy to be cynical about the results of Tuesday’s presidential election: After a long, protracted Republican primary, two party conventions, three presidential debates and nearly $6 billion in electioneering, we’re right back where we started.
A Democratic president. A Republican House of Representatives. A Democratic Senate.
Still, there is reason for some optimism that the next four years won’t be like the past four years — not because leaders of the two divided parties necessarily want to work together, but because circumstances dictate they don’t have much choice.
Like it or not, there are just too many serious issues facing the nation that demand their immediate attention, starting with the expiration of the George W. Bush tax cuts at the end of this year and the self-imposed sequestration cuts to be imposed at the start of the next one.
The first could boost taxes on the average family by $3,500 per year; the second would put into play the initial $110 billion of $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts set to take place over the next 10 years.
Left untouched, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday, the economy could fall back into recession, pushing the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent by the fall of 2013.
So we couldn’t help but be encouraged by some early signs that the White House and congressional leaders might be willing to put past grudges aside and work in a bipartisan manner to resolve some of these critical issues, starting with the lame-duck session that convenes next week.
The first signal came during the president’s inspirational victory speech early Wednesday morning, when he acknowledged he and members of Congress were elected to tackle the difficult issues facing the country.
‘‘Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual,’’ he said. ‘‘You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.’’
The president followed that up by calling all four congressional leaders and pledging to work with them to reduce the deficit, cut taxes and create jobs.
On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner struck a similar tone, saying he was willing to work with the president to avert the implications of the ‘‘fiscal cliff.’’ That could mean accepting some new revenues under a reworking of the U.S. tax code, he said, coupled with a plan to strengthen the nation’s entitlement programs.
Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, fresh off their exasperating performances on CBS’ ‘‘60 minutes’’ Sunday night, suggested they could work together.
Talk is cheap, of course, and neither the White House nor congressional leaders have demonstrated much aptitude for putting the American people before partisan politics. To suggest otherwise would be pretty naive.
But the fiscal cliff is merely the opening act in a long-running series of crucial decisions facing the next Congress early next year, including the raising of the debt ceiling and the March expiration of the continuing budget resolution that has kept government operating since September.
Doing nothing — the motto of the 112th Congress — is no longer an option.
The Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield (Mass.), Nov. 9, 2012
While Massachusetts has a solid record on women’s rights it has historically been resistant to women running for national office — in dramatic contrast to neighboring New Hampshire, which has a female governor and has elected women to all four U.S. House and Senate posts. That changed Tuesday night when voters elected Democrat Elizabeth Warren as the state’s first female U.S. senator on a night when female candidates made significant gains across the nation.
Eleven women won Senate seats Tuesday, five of them newcomers, to bring the total in the Senate to a record 20. A number were helped by the Republican Party’s perplexing challenges to accepted women’s rights, like contraception, over the past year, as well as the decision of Republican senatorial candidates to offer their bizarre and offensive interpretations of what constitutes rape and its aftermath. In Missouri, which went for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill routed Republican foe Todd Akin, who famously declared that women could willfully avoid getting pregnant from rape.
Warren quickly emerged as a determined, issues-oriented middle-class advocate in her campaign against incumbent Republican Scott Brown, who could not escape his ties to a national Republican Party unpopular with Massachusetts voters. While she will fight for the cause of the poor and middle class in Washington, we also see her as a senator willing to cross the aisle to find compromise.Continued...