Saturday 16 December 2017

Obama reforms under threat from Republican landslide

Toby Harnden in Washington

Barack Obama could struggle to drive through his reforms in the second half of his term as polls predict a landslide Republican victory in the House of Representatives.

Democratic, Republican and independent pollsters agree that Mr Obama's party will lose its 39-seat majority there in the November 2 midterm elections.

The president's plans for the second half of his term include implementing his historic healthcare reform, raising taxes on the wealthy, passing climate change legislation and closing Guantanamo Bay.

All this would be imperilled by the Republicans seizing control of the House. It would force Mr Obama to negotiate.

Scott Rasmussen, a non-partisan pollster, predicts Republicans will gain 55 seats in the House, its first majority since 2006. They could even gain the 10 seats they need to win back the Senate, he said.

Charlie Cook, another independent pollster, said the Democratic party was being forced to perform a "painful triage process" in which funding was pulled out of districts that could no longer be saved in order to shore up those that might.

The strategy is in grave danger, however, because Republican fundraising is outstripping Democratic donations.

Speaking at the weekend, Mr Obama blamed "fear and frustration" for a political climate that could deal a severe blow to his agenda.

"Part of the reason that our politics seem so tough right now and facts and science and argument do not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared," he said. "And the country's scared." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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