It was an ambivalent Election Day for both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats flipped House but lost ground in Senate and certainly did not have a mandate. Republicans won governorships in Ohio, Florida, and Georgia, three important states for 2020 and future gerrymandering. The winners were deep Trumpers and Cordray’s loss for Ohio governor after all he had done to protect the little guys as head of the Consumer Protection Agency under Obama was a bad defeat. Trump can look at the elections as a win for him as his candidates won in most of the places he chose to hold rallies- Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Arizona, Montana, Florida.
So where does America go from here. With Congress split, the Democrats holding the House and the GOP controlling the Senate, does that mean more bipartisanship or more gridlock. Will the two parties be able to work together or will there be more conflict? Some of the answers lie with the House leadership. If the Democrats start off by concentrating on policy initiatives, they may be able to get something done with the help of Republicans. If they start off with investigations of the Trump administration, conflict with Trump and the GOP is inevitable. This is not to say that investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election should not occur. But policy moves should come first.
The country is in dire need of infrastructure repair and replacement, from highways, bridges and tunnels, to trains and mass transit. The roads are so congested in so many areas that valuable time is being wasted by people commuting to and from work. And bridges, highways, tunnels, water systems, and sewers are crumbling, many of them built over a century ago and never repaired or modernized. Lead and other toxins are contaminating many water systems besides Flint. Not enough effort is being made to find them and fix them.
And our mass transit systems are a disaster. While China, Japan, and Europe have superfast trains to transport their citizens all around their countries and to commute into and between their cities, America’s trains and subways are hundred year old relics that are constantly breaking down. If the money the federal government lost on the recent tax cut had been used for infrastructure updating, it would have been of much greater economic value to the nation. The time lost in travel and commuting could have been used for much more productive purposes.
Climate change and the use of fossil fuels must also be addressed though it may be difficult with President Trump in the driver’s seat. Perhaps he could be made to see the benefit of a carbon tax, or a trade off can be made for some other issue he favors. However, it is done, it must be done.
Health care is another area that demands repair. Not only must care for pre-existing conditions be guaranteed, but care must be made more affordable for everyone. While the price of medications should be made reasonable, physicians should not be paid on the basis of the volume of patients seen or the number of procedures performed. This provides physicians with the wrong incentives and drives costs up.
The recent tax cut should also be reduced and redirected so that the middle classes are the main beneficiaries instead of the ultra wealthy. And punishment of the high tax blue states must be changed to reflect residents real income after state and municipal taxes. Property tax deductions can be argued either way. A DACA deal must also be made to protect those poor kids and young adults who are in limbo.
The Mueller investigation should be completed and protected to see the role Russian actors played in the 2016 election and if any Americans were complicit. And Trump’s tax returns should be made transparent as has been the tradition for American presidential candidates for decades. He may yell and scream about it but many Americans have been wondering what it is he has been hiding.