The Toxic Environment
I'm glad to see President Obama has invited the banks outside for a little tussle about their simultaneously taking government guarantees on deposits and making risky investments (other than loans)--it's the right enemy to take on, or at least one of them. I think he will find a good reason to take on the AIG bailout soon (even if it was a good deal for the taxpayer), and I expect him to take on the credit rating agencies, too. In terms of making loans to small businesses and the public more generally, the great need of the current economy, he will look beneath the big banks to the regionals and community banks, and find a way to help them do that.
The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, has taken the cause of corporations over the public interest and the people. As I predicted, they have cut down all limitations on corporations (and unions, too) taking out unlimited advertisements to support or oppose political candidates (they left standing the block on direct contributions to candidates, except through the PAC route)
The Tea-Baggers' win in Massachusetts has convinced the Democrats that they need a populist angle, and it is there to be found: attack on big business, and those who would do their bidding. The Republicans will be pretty much forced to take the Libertarian--small government--approach, and I expect Ron Paul to be their new best friend.
The Republicans go into the 2010 election with at least as tough a challenge to hold their seats as the Democrats do. Incumbents of both parties are likely to face more risk than usual, which does not tell us how the seats of the six Republican Senators who have chosen not to run again will turn out.
If we start with the Democrats' current holding of 58 seats (with Sanders, without Lieberman or the new Republican Senator from Massachusetts), I think the range of possible results goes from -3 to +3, so continuing a majority (in normal, 50+ vote terms) should not be at issue. If the pendulum swings back toward the Democrats, they should appeal to progressives for a 60-vote majority without Lieberman. Otherwise, they should plan on changing the filibuster rules for the new Congress, in which they will still have a safe majority, so that extended debate will replace unlimited debate (the number required for cloture number would proceed gradually down from 60 votes to 50 over some weeks), and senators will no longer hold nominations until there are 60 votes to force them to the floor.
Unless something suprising happens, I will not be giving to the DSCC this year. I will give to individual valued candidates in tough races, like Harry Reid in Nevada, Beau Biden in Delaware, and, depending on the candidates, Democratic hopefuls for open seats in states like Florida, Kentucky, and Ohio. I am supporting Reid, who has had a tough job as Majority Leader and generally done his best for the right reasons.
Similarly the House's majority, which is currently 258-177,should not be endangered this year, even in a bad economy with satisfaction ebbing with the Administration. A 25-30 seat loss would be significant but not devastating, and I consider that to be near the worst-case scenario.
I am generally happier with the performance of the House majority than the Senate's. I am willing to give some to the DCCC and let them allocate the money. I may also give to New Mexico's Democratic congressmen; two of the three (though not mine) may expect tough races. In the conservative southern part of the state Harry Teague, even though he's a bit of a DINO, deserves support against the return of odious former Cong. Steve Pearce (who gave up his seat in a failed bid to win the Republican Senate nomination).
Given my expectations that Democratic control of Congress should not be at stake, some of the most important action will be in state races. Democrats have a pretty substantial advantage in terms of state houses, but that will be challenged in a year when the great majority of governorships will be at stake and state governments have huge difficulties with financing during the Great Crater. I am taking a close look at the races in California and Florida, in particular, two states that will gain additional representatives and thus may be subject to political wrangles on redistricting.
On that topic, control of state legislatures is also very important, if not moreso. I may contribute to those organizations which will be looking strategically at state legislature contests.