I said my piece before the vote as to what the election would mean for the Republicans (thank God Nate Silver was right), but a few quick thoughts on what it could mean for President Obama and the Democrats.
- The Fiscal Cliff-My advice would be to do nothing during the lame duck session. Let the Bush Tax cuts expire and let the sequester kick in, effecting the first major cut in defense spending in 60 years. Then in January with a slightly stronger Democratic Senate, push for a middle class tax cut combined with some tax reform that eliminates corporate tax breaks and try to revive the Jobs Act to spur some of the lost government fiscal stimulus. The economy is recovering and so private demand will take up some of the slack.
- Filibuster Reform-The Senate has once again got to be a functioning legislative body. Anyone who wants to filibuster a bill is going to have to play Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. They are going to have to come to the floor of the Senate and talk until they are hoarse. They are going to have to have the people that oppose cloture on the floor for continuous votes. My guess is we will not have another session of 350 filibusters if that was enacted.
- America 3.0-When asked how a huge bureaucratic company like IBM became so flexible, the CEO Sam Palmisano said, “We had to lower the center of gravity” at IBM, by which he meant push power out to the edges of the company. Obama has to use the miracle of the Federal system to get money to the states and cities to experiment with solutions for education, transportation, energy and housing.
- The Smart Grid-As Hurricane Sandy proved, we are operating with a 19th Century energy grid in a 21st Century world. As the folks in Chattanooga Tennessee have proved, a smart grid can recover quickly after a catastrophic weather event and that makes all the difference.
- Climate Change-Maybe Sandy will also get the climate change deniers to STFU. Energy independence and green power are of a piece. If Germany could run 50% of its electrical power off of solar for a couple of days last summer, surely the US could do better with vast stretches of desert just waiting for large solar and wind arrays.