Steve Smith forecasts friction and obstruction in next Congress

2010 election shifts balance in both houses

In the wake of the 2010 election, Washington University in St. Louis congressional expert Steve Smith looks ahead to the next Congress and how the new majority in the House of Representatives and Republican gains in the Senate will affect President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda.

Steven S. Smith, PhD, the Kate M. Gregg Distinguished Professor of Social Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and director of the university’s Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, is available for interview.

House rules
“I expect House Republicans to drop former Speaker Dennis Hastert’s “majority of the majority” rule. Under Hastert, Republicans pushed an agenda at the expense of the few moderate Republicans and without a serious effort to appeal to moderate Democrats. They will avoid that mistake, but persuading the Tea Party faction of the party to compromise with moderates will not be easy.”

Federal Spending
“Meaningful efforts to deal with federal spending require that the Republicans are serious about entitlement reform. This will be extremely difficult. The Wall Street crisis makes any move to privatization of social security impossible. The Republicans’ campaigns, which charged the Democrats with cutting Medicare, makes Medicare reform nearly impossible.”

“I expect Senate Republicans to use their ability to obstruct President Obama’s agenda as leverage to get action on legislation passed by the House Republicans.”

Obama strategy
“President Obama will focus on narrower, popular measures. He will be concerned that short-term budget cuts will further slow down the recovery, but will propose a budget that addresses the deficit over the long run.”