Political incentives

by Russ Roberts on January 20, 2010

in Politics

The press is saying that Obama’s agenda is in jeopardy because he has lost a filibuster-proof ¬†advantage in the Senate.

But on many issues, he can find Republicans who will vote with him, say on cap-and-trade, potentially. Maybe even a revised and less ambitious version of health care.

The real implication of Brown’s victory isn’t that the Republicans can now stop the Democrats. It’s the informational signal it sends to current Senators that they have over-reached. A lot. When a Republican wins an election to replace Ted Kennedy whose signature issue was health care in perhaps the most liberal state in the country, and he wins running against ObamaCare and as a real Republican not some Republican Lite for Massachusetts, it’s a wake-up call of enormous proportions.

Senator Webb’s call to delay all health care votes until Brown is seated isn’t a statement of fairness. It’s a statement of respect and fear for how voters would react if Congress acted otherwise.

Watch for a lot more humility and a lot less hubris in the coming days from the members of Congress. The President is a different matter. What will his persona be in the aftermath of Brown’s victory? It will be fascinating to watch.

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