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Midterm elections discussion

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Hi everyone! I hope I'm not the only one who was encouraged by last Tuesday's results. Part of me is actually glad the GOP didn't take a majority in the senate because it makes it a lot harder for Obama and national Democrats to blame the country's problems (that will likely still be substantial, especially if Obama vetoes everything the House passes), and I think leaves a better chance to get someone else as President in two years. And the arrogance that national Democrats displayed afterwards was stunning to me, not a single important figure conceded they may have overreached, and now we're getting an early Christmas present in Pelosi staying on as minority leader. That's about the worst signal Democrats could have sent to voters; it's pretty much a big middle finger saying they don't care what Americans think. So that should severely increase the chances this will last.

One of the things I found most encouraging, though, was the total bloodbath that were the state legislatures. Even here in New England the Republicans took several legislatures; where I live now in New Hampshire the GOP went from 175 seats in the house (400 total) and 10 seats in the senate (out of 24), to 298 and 19 seats, respectively. I think 14 or 15 other legislatures changed hands to give the Republicans control of almost 30 state's legislatures. I can't speak for how the state parties are in other places, but here the 4 years of Democratic rule have been horrible. The only positive thing they accomplished has been passing gay marriage... but they increased spending enormously, tried to pass all sorts of taxes, restricted homeschooling, started all sorts of new environmental regulations and pretty much tried to run the state into the ground. The new state senate president and the house leaders all responded in a very encouraging manner, saying that they understood this election was about economic issues and that's what they were going to focus on.

Ewv, do you have any comments about the virtual clean sweep Republicans made in Maine? I've read so many of your posts about the things the Maine government was doing that were terrible that it must be an enormous relief to get them out?

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Ewv, do you have any comments about the virtual clean sweep Republicans made in Maine? I've read so many of your posts about the things the Maine government was doing that were terrible that it must be an enormous relief to get them out?

There has been a major reversal in Maine state government across the board. The conservative campaigns minimized or eliminated religious social agendas, sticking to the issues of taxes and political controls wrecking the economy. The governor-elect even openly opposed what he characterized as the environmentalists ruling the state, and called for the abolition of the DEP.

The numerical results of the election and their historical significance are best summed up in this article:

Posted: November 6 Updated: Today at 4:10 PM

DAN BILLINGS: Here’s hoping that Republicans paid attention to why they won

... Republican gains in Maine were even more historic. For the first time since 1960, Maine elected a Republican governor along with Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Paul LePage’s win was the first by a Republican candidate for governor since Gov. John McKernan’s 1990 re-election. When he takes office, LePage will be only the second Republican governor in the last 40 years.

Democrats have controlled the Maine House since 1974. Going into the election, Republicans held only 55 seats in the 151 seat House. But 16 incumbent Democrats lost and Republicans gained a net 22 seats — the biggest gain by any party since the Democrats won 40 seats in the 1964 landslide led by President Lyndon Johnson.

When the new Legislature takes office, the Maine House will have 77 Republicans, 73 Democrats, and 1 Independent.

In the Maine Senate, Democrats held a 20-15 advantage heading into the election. The new Senate will have 20 Republicans, 14 Democrats and 1 Independent.

It also has been a long time since the GOP enjoyed such a wide margin in the Maine Senate: 20 Republicans have not won Senate election since 1976, and the last time Democrats won fewer than 15 seats was 1978.

With Republicans controlling the Legislature, they will pick the next attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer, something they haven’t done since 1978...

The Republicans also just voted our local state Senator as the Senate President, i.e., the senate majority leader. I know him personally and he is a decent, honest man with integrity who is "socially liberal" and has helped the best he could against assaults on property rights and the political abuse of his constituents by the tax authorities. He was a top aide to Olympia Snowe in Washington for 15 years and gained a lot of practical experience there. He explicitly testified to the taxation committee in the state legislature a year ago last spring that in his experience dealing with the state tax authorities in Maine is worse than the IRS.

The one enigma in all this is that the state returned the progressive left Congressmen Michaud and Pingree to Washington.

As for what all this means in practice, remember that not all Republicans are individualists (leading to statist "bi-partisan" legislation), that the government is still charged with enforcing existing laws (which in practice means by entrenched activist bureaucrats in state agencies similar to the problem that Bush had as President), and that the media and the progressive activists in exile from their previous political appointments who are returning to the pressure group lobbyists will savage any attempt at reform by what remains a minority intellectual position of political philosophy in the face of implicitly or explicitly statist "pragmatism". This is still just a beginning, with a long way to go, for now buying time and slowing down the worst of the rise of government abuse. Have no illusions.

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Oh, I agree that we're certainly nowhere close to being home free. I live in one of the more liberal parts of NH so my own state senator and state representatives are probably the most liberal of the bunch. This collection of towns usually votes about 3-4 to 1 for the Democrats, and they almost managed to cancel out Bass's lead in the more sane southern part of the state (thankfully they didn't, the Democratic nominee for NH 2nd district was terrible). I think I will spend a good amount of time writing letters to various legislators to try and give them feedback and keep them on the right track. I was incredibly encouraged, though, when reading the right-leaning Unionleader where by far the majority of people said explicitly they didn't want the Republican legislature to do anything except focus on the budget and jobs, and making it easier to do business here (we dropped quite significantly as a good place to do business since the Dems took over in '06). The Senate leader definitely sounded off on a good note, and I think the people in the house will be fairly sane as well. Our legislature only works for about 6 months out of the year, and then a few days a week (and they're not really paid), so I am hoping that the economy/budget will keep them busy enough not to get into any social engineering shenanigans.

There are some very good bills that got shelved last session, though. In no particular order:

- A state constitutional amendment proposal that would restore some sanity to education funding; our supreme court ruled that the state has an obligation to fund local districts and it's really killing the budget because it puts the largest sector completely off-limits from cuts. If they can pass that it would be an enormous success. There really is no sane reason to hard-code annual 5-6% increases into perpetuity. And I am quite sure that one would pass both the legislature and pass on the next ballot in '12, even our liberal town voted down the school budget last year which was unheard of.

- The last legislature passed some really big restrictions on homeschooling that made it a huge pain, as you had to get approval from the local school board for a lot of stuff, making you entirely dependent on whatever ideas the school superintendent in your district has on homeschooling. What it basically came down to was that you had to move to somewhere where the district didn't completely despise homeschooling. I think that'll pass, as it almost did last year and a lot of the same sponsors are now empowered with a majority :D

- I think they're likely to reduce the rooms and meals tax back to what it was before the Democrats raised it, and possibly the increase in the cigarette tax can be undone. For all the howling the left was doing here about how you can't possibly cut any more from the budget, it remains a fact that spending increased by about 20% per legislative session, and you can't tell me that is all impossible to cut. I think almost any state would have been fine through the financial downturn if they hadn't increased spending so much. No wonder you run into deficits if spending goes up 40% while revenues stay flat. A five year old could probably tell you that's an issue =P

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There are some very good bills that got shelved last session, though. In no particular order:

- A state constitutional amendment proposal that would restore some sanity to education funding; our supreme court ruled that the state has an obligation to fund local districts and it's really killing the budget because it puts the largest sector completely off-limits from cuts. If they can pass that it would be an enormous success. There really is no sane reason to hard-code annual 5-6% increases into perpetuity. And I am quite sure that one would pass both the legislature and pass on the next ballot in '12, even our liberal town voted down the school budget last year which was unheard of.

- The last legislature passed some really big restrictions on homeschooling that made it a huge pain, as you had to get approval from the local school board for a lot of stuff, making you entirely dependent on whatever ideas the school superintendent in your district has on homeschooling. What it basically came down to was that you had to move to somewhere where the district didn't completely despise homeschooling. I think that'll pass, as it almost did last year and a lot of the same sponsors are now empowered with a majority :D

- I think they're likely to reduce the rooms and meals tax back to what it was before the Democrats raised it, and possibly the increase in the cigarette tax can be undone. For all the howling the left was doing here about how you can't possibly cut any more from the budget, it remains a fact that spending increased by about 20% per legislative session, and you can't tell me that is all impossible to cut. I think almost any state would have been fine through the financial downturn if they hadn't increased spending so much. No wonder you run into deficits if spending goes up 40% while revenues stay flat. A five year old could probably tell you that's an issue =P

Great topic! I'm watching different areas of the country and looking forward to see where they are going. NH has a lot of great things going for it, the change over of the state legislative bodies is significant and holds a lot of promise. What other trends are you seeing in NH?

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Great topic! I'm watching different areas of the country and looking forward to see where they are going. NH has a lot of great things going for it, the change over of the state legislative bodies is significant and holds a lot of promise. What other trends are you seeing in NH?

Well, before the election I noticed that our local liberal stronghold was quite demoralized; there were barely any signs out for their chosen candidates, and in the primary for the 2nd CD the Republican primary had about twice as many votes cast as the Democratic one, even though both were quite competitive. And because we have an open primary, it also suggested that independents were breaking heavily for Republicans; it doesn't make much sense for someone to vote in the Republican primary and then vote Democratic in the general, and that looks like it didn't happen.

One other interesting thing here is that our Democratic governor won re-election fairly comfortably, and won almost every county in the state with 8-10% (or more) margin. He's actually pretty decent, and before the legislature flipped to Democratic control in 2006 he did a good job with a Republican legislature. So a lot of people ended up voting for him, and voting straight Republican on the rest of the ticket.

The response locally was quite hilarious, though. NHPR had a bunch of state Democrats on and they all swore up and down that this couldn't possibly have anything to do with them overreaching; even the (fairly leftist) NHPR host was incredulous about that. Which only ends up hurting them in the end, because it makes clear how little regard they have for voters. All the arguments I've heard both in the state as well as nationally revolve around voters being angry/confused/afraid, and I can't see how that's a good strategy. Oh well, all the more power to us. :D

Last year it was quite funny, the legislature passed a "LLC tax" that basically taxed any business owner for 5% of their profits, and they signed it but then went ahead and repealed it once it became obvious how incensed the people here were about it. But they do have a long way to go, and the budget has some problematic areas because of the State Supreme Court ruling the state has to fund education, and I bet another huge expense is the inflated medicaid rolls...

Maybe that's another thing we can look forward to. In the WSJ an article mentioned that several states are now looking at roadblocking the proposed Medicaid expansions in PPACA (Obamacare), but it looks like they can only really do that if they give up Medicaid entirely. Let's hope some states do that, it would be a wonderful precedent both because it allows them to set up their own, better program instead as well as it shifting costs to the national level, making Obamacare even more expensive (and likely unpopular). It definitely looks like come January the list of states suing the Government over Obamacare will grow :D

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