After November

The overwhelming financial advantage of the Republicans, their ability to undermine Obama by sabotaging the US recovery, the weak Democratic political campaign, and the grinding problems of Europe ensure a Republican sweep in November. Romney will be the new President, and he will have a majority in the Senate as well as overwhelming control of the House--and they of him. The question, then, is what will happen over the next 3-4 years.

The Republicans believe that economic recovery requires, first, an unpleasant period during which we get our fiscal house in order by cutting back on entitlements and government spending, and second, government support for private investment. They do not believe in government investment as such, apart from the military and police sectors. Consequently, a dramatic remake of the federal budget will be enacted, as they forthrightly promise. A balanced budget without tax increases on the investor class--that is, corporations and the wealthy--will be the goal, and will include increased defense spending. The Obama healthcare bill will be repealed, and the Republicans will seek to replace Medicaid and Medicare with a voucher system whose levels are geared to reducing federal deficits. Most other social programs, including the EPA, welfare, and industrial regulation will also face drastic financial reductions or total elimination. Farm welfare and tax incentives for carbon-based energy production will survive, however, and probably even increase.

Although Democrats will protest and use parliamentary maneuvers to block what they can, and the surviving liberal press will likewise fuss and fume, they will be talking only to themselves, and a continuing din of right wing advertising and media favoritism will largely drown out their objections. Nor can Democrats at local, State, or federal levels realistically hope to regain office, because the Republicans have a permanent and overwhelming monetary advantage, which has been demonstrated to be highly effective with the electorate, and they will also continue to benefit from voter eradication strategies in the States, of which they will control many more in the Romney sweep.

As  economic theory predicts, and the experience of Europe is now demonstrating, the austerity program that Romney promises will not actually restore fiscal order, and it will very clearly increase disparities of wealth. We can expect an increasing number of Americans to become jobless, members of the underground economy, dispirited, disqualified for 21st century jobs, and, in more and more cases, very angry. Although similar trends will grow throughout the world, the highest performing levels of the US economy should be able to sustain their sales and increase profits through their international operations. Similarly, those businesses that cater to the wealthy should thrive, and a flood of people moving down the income ladder might sustain sales and profits at the businesses like Walmart or Dollar Stores that cater to those with low income.

I say that US corporations should be able to sustain international sales, but that possibility would disappear if Romney pursues the beligerant foreign policy he has suggested. Even if he does not start a shooting war with Iran, however, anything like a return to the W. Bush policies would probably trigger international trade wars that could go far toward dismantling the free trade measures that have prevailed since World War II. Since that would, of course, be very problematic for the corporate world I tend to discount the possibility that a Romney foreign policy would resemble his campaign positions.

Some writers have posited that Romney's election and a sweeping Republican triumph in November would lead to something like permanent oligopolistic rule, with the only significant disagreements being within the ruling class. That does seem to me a possible endpoint of what must be a devolution that takes several election cycles. Several conceivable scenarios could seriously derail that development, such as warfare, civil chaos, Democratic resurgence, the formation of an effective new political party, plague or other cataclysmic natural disasters, or technological breakthroughs that overturn the existing economic structure.  So there is always hope.

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