As usual, many an issue is animating voters in the run-up to midterm elections. President Trump and Republicans are touting the soaring economy and record low unemployment while maximizing the political opportunity presented by the migrant caravan to draw a sharp contrast with the Democrats on immigration.
Democrats in turn believe they can galvanize hatred of Trump among their leftist base and somehow shift the blame for voter unrest about health care to the GOP — ironic given the pounding they have taken and electoral losses they have suffered because of Obamacare.
But while the more than two-decade-old slogan that famously drove the Bill Clinton presidential campaign — it’s the economy, stupid — remains valid, the GOP would be well advised to add another iteration of that mantra in this last week of the election season by swapping out one word:
It’s the committees, stupid.
Wins and Losses
What really matters to both parties at this point is not so much the seats won or lost, but that they hold the majority in the House and Senate, and thus the committees that dictate the entire legislative agenda.
So if you offered Republicans the certainty that they would suffer a net loss of 22 seats in the House next Tuesday, one less than the Democrats need to seize control of the lower chamber, they would undoubtedly take the deal, because they would still hold the speakership and chairmanship of all the committees. And most significantly in the Donald Trump era, they would deny Democrats subpoena power, something the Dems undoubtedly would unleash with a fury through countless investigations of Trump and his allies. And then there is, of course, articles of impeachment.
What prevented the appointment of Merrick Garland, who would have swung the Supreme Court to the left? It was the majority power held by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who refused to bring the nomination forward.
…imagine for a moment the people who would become Speaker of the House, chair the committees, and hold subpoena power if Democrats seize the majority.
What saved the Brett Kavanaugh nomination? The GOP’s continuing majority and control of the same committee.
What allowed Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed with slim majorities rather than the 60 votes previously required for confirmation? Once again, it was the power of McConnell to change the rules, as Harry Reid had done previously for lower court appointments when Democrats controlled the Senate.
And what allowed the tax reform bill to be passed outside the normal legislative process, by “budget reconciliation”? Again, Republicans holding the whip hand.
Who Will be in Power?
On the House side, imagine for a moment the people who would become Speaker of the House, chair the committees, and hold subpoena power if Democrats seize the majority. Nancy Pelosi would be given the gavel. If that’s not enough incentive to get Republicans to the polls, consider this one: Maxine Waters as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. She would actually wield power over banks, insurance companies, and housing. But more importantly, she has all but promised to use every last bit of her newfound leverage to target the president in any and every way possible, with the ultimate aim of removing Trump from office.
We all know by now about her urging people to name and shame Trump officials in public, but it goes beyond that. Mad Max, who commenced her long-running demand for the impeachment of Donald Trump only days after the 2016 election, actually betrayed a full-on religious conviction in declaring that she was “sent by God to impeach Donald Trump.” And she later added, “I wake up in the middle of the night and all I can think about is I’m gonna get him.”
Democrat-run committees would undoubtedly launch investigations into everything, from Trump’s finances to his environmental, education, and foreign policies. None of Trump’s decisions would be immune from microscopic-level scrutiny. An endless parade of Democrat-friendly witnesses would be called. Work on virtually everything other than examinations of the inner recesses of Trump and his administration would be shut down.
As Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) put it regarding multiple issues Democrats are chomping at the bit to investigate, “…when we do take over you bet we’re going to have those hearings.”
So when voters go to the polls in this midterm election disguised as a referendum on President Trump, they might well be thinking about the economy. They always do, and they should. But they would be well-advised to also consider carefully what will surely happen if they hand power back to the same political party they renounced the last time around.