Should We Be Pessimistic or Optimistic?

I watched the news on television last night for the first time in months. Indeed, I’m watching it this morning. The question I have is the title of this post: should we be pessimistic or optimistic about the Republican win last night?

On the economy, I’m a pessimist and that might be bad for Obama. That’s not to say that the Republicans actually have anything to offer, because they don’t. It’ll be more tax cuts (expansionary) and perhaps some spending cuts (contractionary), but nothing that involves cutting defense, homeland security, etc. Obama’s (lack of) negotiating skills makes me even more pessimistic. He gave Republicans tax cuts in advance in the stimulus, even though it earned him few Republican votes, and spending is more stimulative than tax cuts.

Obama passed a Rube Goldberg health care bill, but Republicans are kidding themselves if they think they can repeal it. The Democrats still have the Senate, as well as the filibuster, and President Obama still has the veto. I don’t see a lot of realistic room for improvement.

In short, I’m pessimistic.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, , , ,
Robert Prather
About Robert Prather
Robert Prather contributed over 80 posts to OTB between October 2005 and July 2013. He previously blogged at the now defunct Insults Unpunished. Follow him on Twitter @RobPrather.


  1. tom p says:

    we are screwed. So are our children… and grandchildren…

  2. john personna says:

    I started out pessimistic, and have become slightly less so. I like the “rejection of both parties” meme and the “call for solutions.” That is a necessary but not sufficient step toward actual solutions.

    It will come down to whether this President and this Congress can actually do it.

  3. John,

    If it forces the Republicans to come up with actual solutions, rather than reflexively opposing Obama, it might turn out OK. I just don’t see the right incentives in place. Nor have I heard any ideas out of them that really address our current economic situation — namely, a liquidity trap.

  4. sam says:

    As I said in another thread, the telling point will come with the vote to raise the debt limit. If the Tea Party folks now elected act on their rhetoric, and vote not to raise the debt limit in the House, or, in the Senate, filibuster against the raise, then, given our current economic situation, we are well and truly screwed. See, The Big Freeze. And, since I don’t see how those folks can go back on all the fire and brimstone they’ve been heaping on the deficit and spending and still retain credibility, so, color me pessimistic.

  5. Sam,

    I don’t believe even Rand Paul is so stupid he would try to stop us from raising the debt ceiling when we need to. It would destroy the economy. He might put on a show — he might even filibuster — but he won’t do it if he can actually win.

  6. sam says:

    I hope you’re right.

  7. Michael says:

    john personna,
    That rhetoric would be much more encouraging if we didn’t hear it after every single election where control of some part of the government changed hands. Everybody plans to rise above partisanship and work towards real solutions in their acceptance speeches, but they rarely follow through with that once in office.

  8. sam says:

    Speaking of stupid. Here’s the Senator elect from Utah, Mike Lee (

    In an interview with NPR today about what tea party-backed candidates would do if they gain seats in Congress, Utah GOP Senate nominee Mike Lee explicitly said he would refuse to vote to raise the debt limit, even if it leads to a government shutdown:

    “Our current debt is a little shy of $14 trillion. And I don’t want it to increase 1 cent above the current debt limit and I will vote against that,” he says.

    Even if it leads to government default and shutdown?

    “It’s an inconvenience, it would be frustrating to many, many people and it’s not a great thing, and yet at the same time, it’s not something that we can rule out,” he says. “It may be absolutely necessary.”

    An inconvenience. How does somebody who says that take it back and vote to raise the limit?
    Without looking like a complete liar? What is the GOP leadership, whom I’m assuming are rational, to do with somebody like that?

  9. Nightrider says:

    Pessimistic. Two reasons:

    1. Look not just at how many seats the Dems lost in the House, but at *who* lost. The liberals in the House escaped nearly without a scrape. The moderate Democrats were decimated. This makes bipartisnaship all that much harder.

    2. The real strategy for House Republicans seems to be to be singularly focused on trying to make Obama look bad for 2012. Which is ironic, because voter rejection of those silly antics may be Obama’s best tool for re-election.

  10. John Personna says:

    Michael, I agree that is the risk. Right now pundits say no mandate, instead pragmatism. A week from now that may be forgotten. Still, more hope than if they were crowning a new Newt with some 100 point plan.

  11. We should be:

    c) Cynical

  12. An Interested Party says:

    “we are screwed. So are our children… and grandchildren…”

    That fate was ours long before yesterday or 2008 or 2006…