OK, these are my predictions on how the 2014 mid-term elections are going to turn out and what it may mean for Agriculture.
Sorry this is not done as a podcast, but a wet muddy, very muddy harvest is still underway around here. And yes, we have a 40 that still has water in the road ditch, been that way since the first of September. It may just have to freeze for some of it.
Republicans keep the house and go over 245 seats. Which means without a huge wave type election in 2016 for the democrats, the republicans maintain control of the house until at least 2022 when new redistricting takes place to reallocate the house seats based on the new 2020 census. Money and effort will probably not be there for the dems to make a charge at the house republicans. Thank you to “we have to pass it before we read it” comments that will in the history books will go down as what really started the dems slide backwards in the House of Representatives. Just for the record 245 is a huge number.
The Senate is the big prize and the Republicans win control somewhere between 52 and 55 seats. This number is big because 2016 is a Presidential year and democratic voters seem more motivated to vote in these elections. Why you ask is the margin of victory important. In 2016 Republicans have to defend 24 of the 34 seats up for election that year and 3 of those are going to be very hard for the Republicans to hold onto. If only 52 this time, minus the 3 then Republicans are in the minority again. Very, very outside chance at 56 to 57 but that is a perfect storm type of scenario. Other side it all has to go the dems way along with a lot of ballot stuffing for them to maintain nominal control of the senate. 50-50 ties are broken by the vice-president so in a tie dems really win. Joe Biden has a real job again.
Side note on ballot “stuffing”. Now one just has to know how to program the screen so the “right” votes get counted. Great quote from Joseph Stalin ” its not who votes that matters its who counts the votes”. I could go off on 500 words that a ballot is an actual piece of paper that can be stored for an historical record not a touch screen. Of course the touch screen makes it so you no longer have to dump ballot boxes in the Chicago or Des Plaines rivers.
Democrats “Winning While Losing”?
So in every election where you know you are going to lose you pick some place to “hold the line”. Which I believe the dems want to keep the republican gains in the Senate to no more than 52. They have 2 more years where Obama can veto anything the republicans do that try and roll back anything that they have done (move the country farther to the left, more socialism) and if they then can take back the Senate in 2016 they can “veto” any attempted roll back then also. Would not matter who wins presidency, only if we move farther left or just keep from rolling it back. So nothing gets done, but ratchet the country farther and farther to the left and then hold the line against any roll backs. This is the main reason I see conservatives quit politics, the dems just wear you out and wait you out. This is a 100 year strategy not something a one time tea party election will reverse. This is not a knock on the tea party. I also explain this to great business people and then they really get disgusted with politics.
I also believe that Obama and the national democratic machine, which is now very similar to the Cook County democratic machine that has just about ruined Illinois also have one other “line” they would like to hold. That is they would like or should I say need to defeat Thompson who is running for re-election for Governor of Wisconsin and win the Governorship again in the, and I use this term loosely, “home” state of Illinois.
Effects on Agriculture
House becomes more republican and more conservative. Look for a few people to get even with Collin Peterson and some of his farm bill policies especially the dairy portions. These will not be other house committee members but suburban lawmakers from very conservative districts. Look for hearings into what Vilsack has or has not done on a couple things. Rs may try and not fund some white house priorities. USDA climate hubs may be on that list. COOL and GIPSA are on a short list to be deleted.
Senate stops most of these attempts to not fund stuff especially the white house “priorities”. Real battle may be for control of the republican side of the Senate. Will the mainline republicans or true conservatives really run the show over there.
Obama will now be able to really show what he has wanted to do as President through executive orders now that he has no more elections to go through. Immigration, health care, pardons, and a whole lot of other stuff that may not help the mood in Washington. This long term does not bode well for bipartisanship working on the next farm bill.
In the Senate I look for southern Senators to dominate agricultural policy. This may not be done from the ag committee, but a southern influence will make sure crops like rice and cotton continue to be well taken care of.
Ethanol supporters who have courted Midwestern democrats could see some western conservatives “go after” anything that helps ethanol stay competitive in the market place.
The last thing that I think agricultural groups need to think about is that Congress is becoming more suburban. Suburban constituents have less at stake than most rural and inner city people do. While many rural people do not directly get government farm payments, many indirectly benefit from them. Lots of inner city constituents get food stamps. Now some suburban residents get food stamps and a few may work in an agricultural related industry and once in awhile you run into somebody who owns a farm that gets program payments, many do not benefit in anything of a direct way from program payments. There lies the problem with passing future farm bills and why many agricultural groups do not want to split the food assistance program away from traditional farm programs. Even though food assistance makes up over 80% of farm program spending.