Call It A Trial Run

Most news agencies are reporting that an agreement has been reached between the Democrat Congressional leaders and the White House, to provide the $15 billion in Federal funding, bail out, bridge loan….pick your favorite euphemism. The agreement calls for the creation of a Car Czar who will

have powers to shape a restructuring of the companies, withholding further loans if progress toward a turnaround stalled.

While Nancy Pelosi may want to see House Republicans sign on to the bail out just to provide the appearance of her greater bipartisanship, there’s no doubt that the Democrats will pass the bill now that they don’t have to worry about the implications of impending elections.

On the Senate side, the outcome of a vote on the package is far from certain. There are reports of dissatisfaction within the Senate Republican ranks. The question will be whether, while they still have 49 seats, the Republicans can hold together 41 votes and keep the bill from a vote.

In just a few weeks Barack Obama will be sworn in as President. Despite what some are calling “centrist” cabinet selections, there is no doubt that Obama’s views are far to the left of the American public. Couple him with Nancy Pelosi and her faux bipartisanship in the House and you are 2/3rds of the way to passing nearly any legislation that Obama or Pelosi may dream up. The only place where Republicans have a chance to influence policy for the next two years will be in the Senate.

In January the Republicans will be pared down to 42 or possibly 41 Senate seats. Included in that number will be Senators Snowe, Collins, Specter and of course the ever enigmatic McCain. It has been much debated whether the Republicans will be able to hold together to create any amount of resistance to the Democrat agenda.

61% of Americans are unwilling to provide a bail out for the auto industry. That coupled with Republicans now lip syncing that they want to be the party of smaller government (again), seems like the perfect opportunity, while we still have the 49 vote training wheels on, to see if we can hold the caucus together and flex some minority muscle. If they can, well, maybe there is some hope. If they can’t, buckle up, it’s going to be a long couple of years.

I think you can consider the Senate vote on the auto bill a trial run for what we will see at least until 2010.