A Majority, If You Can Keep It

The Republican Party, which in 2006 was unceremoniously deprived of its last majority in the House of Representatives, is virtually certain to regain that advantage with next Tuesday’s mid-term election.  The still-unanswered question is whether the GOP will use that majority to trim federal spending and cut federal power, or behave as it did when it enjoyed a majority during the first six years of President George W. Bush’s eight years in office, and dramatically increase both federal spending and power.

The answer may lie in the response Benjamin Franklin gave to a fellow Philadelphian citizen in 1787. The famous octogenarian was asked what form of governing structure the Constitutional Convention then meeting behind closed doors had decided upon – “a Republic or a Monarchy?”– Franklin famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Now, 223 years later, similar questions about the fundamental direction in which America is headed, are being asked; largely in the context of whether a Republican majority in one or both houses of Congress, will make a significant difference.

Clearly, the Democrats are on the ropes. Even many who have not in the past needed to fight to keep their seats, are facing the very real prospect of defeat. Long-serving Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Barney Frank has been forced to loan his campaign $200,000 to fend off a challenge from an impressive young GOP challenger.

In my home state of Georgia, Republicans are poised to pick off Rep. Jim Marshall, who has been a frequent target of the National Republican Congressional Committee, notwithstanding his vote against “Obama Care.” A recent poll by The Hill shows him trailing Austin Scott, a state legislator from South Georgia, by 13 points.

There are similar scenarios all across the country. Many observers and reporters no doubt laughed at Republican suggestions earlier this year that 100 seats were in play. But with just days to go, we see this year is truly shaping up to be that bad for President Barack Obama and House Democrats.

The comparisons to past elections have been made by many during the current cycle. The most frequent comparison is to 1994, when 54 new Republicans rode into the House on a wave fueled by the “Contract with America.” The “Contract” was short and simple, but it resonated with voters.

What are Republicans offering in 2010 to prove they really are different? So far they have offered a tepid “Pledge to America” that makes no mention of earmark reform, actually endorses parts of Obama Care, and speaks in platitudes when it comes to reform of Medicare and Social Security; programs that make up over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. They still are using gay marriage and “don’t ask, don’t tell” as wedge issues. There also has been no serious discussion from prominent Republicans about ending our nation’s imperialistic tendencies that surged during the Bush administration.

Already, Republican leaders are playing down legislative and budget battles with the Obama Administration. When Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) floated the prospect of a government shutdown, Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner (R-OH) was quick publically to toss cold water on the suggestion.

November 2nd is shaping up to be a big day for Republicans. Do they truly believe in the limited government and free market rhetoric espoused on the campaign trail? Ben Franklin’s prescient advice, paraphrased for the majority-in-waiting GOP, still stands – “Yes, you will very likely have a majority, but will you keep it or squander it?” The track record isn’t good.

55 comments Add your comment


October 29th, 2010
5:55 am

I find it difficult to believe that the record campaign contributions these guys are raking in come with no strings attached. To date, there hasn’t been any serious discussion about which programs should be cut or eliminated. If the republicans have a plan, it’s too important to share with the measly little voters.


October 29th, 2010
6:18 am

Bob, That last sentence should read OUR track record as you have contributated to this mess all your life.
I feel dirty just reading your slime. No solutions ever.


October 29th, 2010
6:48 am

Boehner and the Republicans need to grow some, stand up, and when the Dems push back say “NO!!” They need to take to the airways, go on the Daily Show, and re-educate America about the Free Market. They might need to start with some of their own Republican party members.

They are being given another chance. If they blow it again, America’s only hope against Socialism will lie in 3rd parties.


October 29th, 2010
7:00 am

The Flagpole, in Athens, ran a list of all local candidates and names of where their money is coming from. Broun, who, because he is a walking joke in Washington, will never, ever be taken seriously, had almost an entire page of individual and PAC donors. Guess who donated most of his money??? Banks and bankers, brokerage firms and stock brokers, hedge funds and hedge fund managers, big businesses with “issues” on health and safety, and insurance companies. If one has a brain, one has to ask the question, “What is in it for these particular entities?”. And, if you have a brain, you have to come to the conclusion that they are counting on his vote to eradicate the banking reforms that have been enacted, the insurance reforms that have come from the healthcare bill, etc. THEN, we have to come to the conclusion that this idiot of a man, for some reason, wants us to NOT have transparency in the financial services, WANTS us to have high fees from the credit card companies (I got my new fees schedule from Bank of America credit card and that annoying fee they used to charge for having a balance below a certain limit went to $0!!!) The other nickel and dime fees dropped tremendously). Why would Broun want the work so hard to eradicate the safety measures that have tried to protect miners, oil rig workers, chemical plant workers, etc? These Republicans who are mouthing sound bites to their base, cannot, and will not do anything differently than they did for the eight years they had total control, and, because they were unchecked, brought about two wars that are now on record as the longest wars in this country’s history. They also gave us Medicare Part D, the largest entitlement program EVER! Their response when we question these things is that the budget is Obama’s problem. The costs for these things were born on their watch. My fear is, when they take over the reins, they will be a thousand times worse than they were before.


October 29th, 2010
7:19 am

It’s amazing how easily people are duped by the Republicans and FOX News. How easily they forget the 8 years under Bush, which will go down as the worst 8 years in the history of this country. About the only people who benefitted in those 8 years were Halliburton, Exxon Mobil and billionaires. Shame on Americans who are all too willing to be duped by these morons again. The Tea Party is the biggest embarrassment I have ever seen. Where were they when Bush was spending like a drunked sailor in Iraq??

Bill Campbell

October 29th, 2010
7:54 am

The ” Evil ” Tea Party is really the silent majority that is not silent anymore! The Democrats are blinded by the worst American President in history! The liberal media is in bed with Obama and does it ever stink!Tuesday the silent majority will be known!


October 29th, 2010
8:09 am

Evil corporations, Bush, Cheney, Haliburton, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Evil Rich, Racist Morons, Stupid Tea Party, Need to Redistribute, WMDs…….

Yawn, jan, you people need a new gig.

A few inconvenient facts:

•In January 2007 before the Democrats took over Congress, unemployment was 4.6 percent; now it’s 9.6 percent.
•In January 2007 there were 7.1 million unemployed people in America; now there are 14.9 million.
•In January 2007 the median home price was $210,600; today it’s $179,300.
•In January 2007 the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 12,500; today it’s at 10,840.
•In January 2007 the gross federal debt was $9 trillion; today it’s $13.5 trillion.
•The poverty rate in 2006 was 12.3 percent; now it’s 14.3 percent
•In the final budget created by a GOP-controlled Congress, the deficit was $160 billion; now it’s $1.6 trillion.

Noel Sheppard asks what Reagan did: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”


October 29th, 2010
8:17 am

I love when Republicans bemoan the growth of government. Didn’t the last administration add a whole new cabinet level department to the federal government-DHS? But people say we needed that after 911. Bull! When Americans are frightened they don’t think straght and anything goes. We already had agencies for that job which only needed to be fixed to work better against terrorism. When a cabinet level agency is added we get a secretary, a slew of undersecretaries, commissions, divisions, offices, bureaus and on and on. Nobody is talking about the elephant in the room – DHS is exploding, no pun intended. The average American does not know what DHS does or even stand for. Their knowledge of DHS is some vague notion of airport and flight security at best. Republicans and the Tea Party also scream socialism. Last night I watched a commentator ask four leaders of various Tea Party groups what part of the federal government is more socialistic than Medicare and Social Security. You could hear crickets chirping. He went on to ask them what parts of the government would they eleminate or cut. Once again crickets chirping except for one individual who said eleminate the Dept. of Education, but his reason wasn’t money. He railed about the federal government shouldn’t decide what our children learn blah, blah, blah. Are Americans really analyzing what these people are saying, or they merely stuck on fear and blame the current administration for all their fears and misguided anger? I challenge all working class folks who make less than 250K/yr. to get their pay stubs before the stimulus took affect and their pay stubs after the stimulus took affect and compare the witholdings. You are now taking home more pay. Quit lying to yourselves.

Karl Marx

October 29th, 2010
8:27 am

We haven’t had a “Republic” since the election of Lincoln and the Civil War. The real question is just how socialist will we become. Democratic Socialism or Republican Socialism there is no real difference between the two.


October 29th, 2010
8:50 am

RGB – You spout off your facts and figures, but you fail to mention the bottom line and it is this…it is Bush’s fault. You have to aknowledge the fact that the present administration’s policies are sound and have only failed because of Bush. We just need more time for change. Keep holdin’ on baby


October 29th, 2010
8:53 am

There are many still-unanswered questions in politics but what the Republicans will do is not one of them. Since they are wholly owned by Big Business they will do exactly what their corporate masters tell them to do. So, as usual, the people will get whatever crumbs are left from the table.

Common Man

October 29th, 2010
9:22 am


And with the unchecked solcialist in the white house…the people will get whatever he shoves down our throat…that question has already been answered.

Haywood Jablome

October 29th, 2010
9:35 am

•In January 2007 before the Democrats took over Congress, ….

This statement would be more accurate if it read: •In January 2007 after 7 years of George W. Bush’s disastrous policies,….

[...] A Majority, If You Can Keep It [...]


October 29th, 2010
9:49 am

Corey, while you are technically correct, the conclusion you present is misleading.

Withholding, for some, decreased but the tax tables haven’t changed. So while you may get a few bucks more per week at present, your tax liability remains the same. You may be in for a surprise April 15th.

All of that, of course, changes when President Obama puts forth the largest tax increase in the history of the world on January 1, 2011. By failing to extend the Bush tax cuts, Obama will add to the 15 million people now unemployed. When we were more of an agrarian society (that means farming to you liberals), they called it “eating the seed corn.”

I guess 15 million unemployed isn’t enough for The One.

As for Haywood, I believe having 8 million fewer unemployed is a good thing. I believe less poverty is preferred to more poverty and that rising home values is a good thing. [Under Obama, poverty increased more sharply than at any time since statistics have been kept (1958).]

But you and Obama obviously see it differently.

Hillbilly Deluxe

October 29th, 2010
9:49 am

From what I’ve seen in my lifetime, I think we should have a complete turnover in our elected officials, every two years.


October 29th, 2010
10:04 am

They need to cut everything possible. The Gov of NJ is taking heat for shutting down a new tunnel for rail lines into NYC, but it isn’t necessary at this moment, so the savings are worth it. In GA, we don’t need 47 million for trolley’s, nor 5 million for a rial line to Charlotte. Cut Cut Cut. I also heard of anther govt programs that gave $750k for municipal dance software, which could have been purchased at a computer store for $500.00. Cut Cut Cut!!!


October 29th, 2010
10:32 am

You can argue all day about how much worse this country has gotten over President x y’s administration, but REAL change is made through being proactive!

If we as Americans were only more proactive, we wouldn’t be so concerned over “Republicans/Bush this” and “Democrats/Obama that”. Instead, we’d be banding together to demand proper checks and balances, a verifiable voting system, &c.

Just putting that out there… happy arguing!


October 29th, 2010
10:44 am

what? The GOP talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk? If we vote GOP then nothing will change? Country broke. Jobs gone? China’s Navy looming?

America is not pissed. America is racist. America is afraid. Fear motivates polls.

When the GOP steals what’s left of the budget, then Americans will finally revolt and go full Antoinette. Rush Limbaugh will be our Mussolini and suffer the same fate.


October 29th, 2010
10:50 am

Yes, lets return to the Rep. lead House and Senate which, as Barr points out, gave us massive debt when they were last in power–for 6 years. I recall our last Rep. President left us with 700,000+ job losses per month, and a GDP crash of about 10%. W. also gave us an unfunded Medicare prescription drug Bill–a boondoggle for drug companies–that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently estimated will cost 1.3 trillion over the next 10 years–more than the stimulus, TARP, and Healthcare Bill (which actually reduces debt by 100 billion a year) combined.

RGB–W. promised massive job creation with his tax cuts for the wealthy. Worked great didn’t it for 8 years—-1-3 million jobs created over that period-depending on who you believe. Versus 23 million jobs created during Clinton–after he raised taxes on the wealthy. Your economic philosophy has been a disaster over and over again.

Let’s face it, there’s no logic behind the obsessive anger over Obama’s policies–given the meek conservative complaints of W’s massive spending during non near Depression conditions. It all comes down to fear, and the fact that there’s an obviously highly intelligent, highly educated, urban black man as President, with a funny name. Drives a lot of Bubbas crazy.


October 29th, 2010
10:56 am


Your reparations check is in the mail. We sorry.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Up with hope, down with…..whatever.

markie mark

October 29th, 2010
10:59 am

@Corey…..dang, how many times do people have to point this out? here it goes again…..Yes, the dems lowered the WITHHOLDING RATE….but they DID NOT lower the TAX RATE. You pay the same thing. But the smart people, who try to come out even at the end of the year (no tax bill because they planned their withholding correctly) now WILL get a bill. Dont you get it yet? You didnt pay less in taxes, they just didnt withhold as much. Funny me, I thought I got to choose my deductions so that I could work out my tax burden in a timely manner….

No, wait….I could do that before Obama came to power, not now.

Common Man

October 29th, 2010
11:13 am


WHat is already standing in line to buy lottery tickets with his reparations check.

Two Cents

October 29th, 2010
11:33 am

Remember the “good old days” when candidates used to run on policies and platforms? It seems that to get elected today all you have to do is convince people that your opponent is an idiot, crook or from Mars. Campaigning it just all about negativity and lies, not about issues that people REALLY care about. I’m so tired of being yelled out about how evil Democrats and Republicans are.
I struggle to figure out why today’s voters actually are taking this sitting down.
@Stephanie is right. The American public needs to band together and demand more of our leaders on both sides.
In concept, the Tea Party has the right idea in getting the message of the people heard, but their message just doesn’t work for me.
Can’t we all just get along and work for the best of the country? Or does agreeing on things and working together to accomplish a common good seem too much like Socialism for some people?
Let’s take the hate out of politics and get back to talking about and debating the ISSUES!


October 29th, 2010
12:22 pm

RGB–just read your earlier post-on 2007 statistics, etc. Very weak. You ignore the massive crash in 2008. Recall the 7-8 million jobs lost then. Please state what Demo policies in one year-that became law, caused the crash. Please identify any spending Bill that W vetoed?? None??? Any contention that Obama caused any of the bad statistics you cite is beyond silly. Of course, Reps are about to greatly benefit from the voters’ collective amnesia.

You also ignored that W’s predicted budget for the coming year–when he left office, was about a 1.3 billion deficit.

Were was the DOW the day W. left office? I believe around 7,000.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

October 29th, 2010
12:39 pm

WHat is just another in the ill-informed mass of Obama voters. Combine them all and one gets an IQ of about 3.


October 29th, 2010
12:51 pm

“The still-unanswered question is whether the GOP will use that majority to trim federal spending and cut federal power, or behave as it did when it enjoyed a majority during the first six years of President George W. Bush’s eight years in office, and dramatically increase both federal spending and power.”

Look, conservatives are not happy with the Bush administration, to say the least, but this is right out of the Democratic playbook (why am I surprised, after all, you work for the AJC). The expansion of Federal power was largely Homeland Security, and the Democrats would have implemented far more costly unionization and expansionist work rules.
Spending under Democratic Congressional Rule beggining in 06 has been off the charts and then some compared to the Republicans. Not excusing them, but it’s like comparing a sassy kid to a mass-murderer.

The Tea Party constituency is not going away, and will to the extent possible hold Republicans in-line. It’s not a new constituency, when I was growing up 50 years ago it was called the “Silent Majority”. Silent no more.

I’d like to see Bush try to get re-elected today, after publicly disavowing free market economic principles.


October 29th, 2010
12:54 pm

“Can’t we all just get along and work for the best of the country?”

You want to get along, get your hand out of my pocket.


October 29th, 2010
1:09 pm

“I challenge all working class folks who make less than 250K/yr. to get their pay stubs before the stimulus took affect and their pay stubs after the stimulus took affect and compare the witholdings. You are now taking home more pay. Quit lying to yourselves.”

Quit misrepresenting this as “taking home more pay”. That is an outright lie.


October 29th, 2010
1:31 pm

RGB, the current tax cuts which are set to expire Dec 31st were written with a sunset provision by a Republican controlled Congress and signed into law by a Repuiblican President. Yet you tell a partisan, bald face lie that Mr. Obama will push through the greatest tax increase in history. Also, Mr. Obama has made it clear that he wants to make the tax cuts permanent for working people who make less than 250K/yr. I don’t know how much you make, but Mr. Obama’s plan to let the tax cuts expire on those making over 250K/yr certainly will not affect me and the greatest majority(over 95%)of working Americans. In addition, how many Republicans running for any elected office invoke “the middle class”? I’m often reminded of the “communist” cry by bigots whenever a microphone was shoved in their faces during Dr. King’s protest against racial and social injustice particularly in the South. Today the code word is “socialist.” The same theme(inflame passions of the short sighted) but different lyrics.


October 29th, 2010
1:53 pm

For A Hearty Cheese Sauce, I wouldn’t be talking about people who aren’t calling the President horrible names being ill-informed and having an IQ of 3 or so. You not only are arrogant, but also a bit of a coward who probably gets all your info from hate mongers such as Limbaugh and Fox News. Stupidity exists but it continues to amaze me just how stupid a lot of folks are. Two Cents and Stephanie, thanks for your common sense replies. You are about the only people on here who represent me. The Tea party certainly doesn’t nor do most of the name callers. It’s extremely juvenile and something most of us try to teach our children not to do. Too bad most of you weren’t raised better.

interested observer

October 29th, 2010
2:51 pm

No, the Republicans will not live up to their promises. They are no more in favor of limited government or ending government deficits than the Democrats. They just want to grow government and spend money THEIR way.

And, I think we can count on the new Democratic minority in Congress to act pretty much the same way the current Republican minority acts – as obstructionists.

Meanwhile the GOP will cash in on its majority through greater contributions from the corporations, who will be rewarded with even more control over legislation.

In other words, nothing will really change.


October 29th, 2010
3:06 pm

Mr Barr I see this as the best column you have ever written.

There is a lot of truth in this piece and a few knives stuck in backs.
But all deserved.

If I was a betting man I would bet that they do not keep it. Six, maybe eight years at the most and then the Demos take over again.

I have not seen one word that Defense spending is on the table.
77 million baby boomers are about to retire in the next 20 plus years.
That is 77 million voters who will want Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid protected. So that makes SS/Medi effectively off the table.

So with Defense and SS/Medi off the table where do you find the necessary One Trillion Dollars to cut?

The answer, of course, is that Defense must be on the table. 62% of all federal spending in FY 2009 was defense & SS/Medi. Defense was 23%.

Oh, and will the Republican House vote to raise the debt limit in April 2011 or just shut down the federal government for a period?

[...] Election 2010 all about tea party? It’s more: It’s year of the outsider MinnPost.com Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) - Boston Globe (blog) all 6,175 news [...]


October 29th, 2010
3:42 pm

All the lies and still some belive in the GOP.

Ex Republican

October 29th, 2010
3:46 pm

Republicans and Teabaggers don’t think you all have this election in the bag. The rally to restore sanity this weekend will show you that their is a large silent majority that isnt ready to hand the country back to the irresponsibly party of NO!! Washington here comes the real Americans this weeekend. We want to move forward not backwards. How the hell you expect to seize a election and govern out of anger. Sanity will be restored to the country this weekend.


October 29th, 2010
3:59 pm

There is only one currently elected member of the house that could teach anyone anything about economics and principled stands against big government. That man is congressman Ron Paul. Expect him to be marginalized once the next congress gets going as he represents principles and if there is one thing the republican leadership wants none of its principles, especially if they threaten their plans for world domination and power-hungry control of america.

Talk is cheap, and the republicans only know how to talk. Don’t get me wrong, the democrats are the scum of the earth too. But this post is about republicans.

Vote Libertarian.

Ex Republican

October 29th, 2010
4:09 pm

Stewart says his rally is for people who are “tired of their reflection in the media as being a divided country and a country that’s ideological and conflicted and fighting, this is for those people.” Amen!!

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/2010/10/29/2010-10-29_john_stewart_stephen_colbert_ready_to_kick_off_rally_to_restore_sanity_march_to_.html#ixzz13mR9ZEag


October 29th, 2010
4:19 pm

Ex R: You appear to hold the mistaken impression Stewart’s politics aren’t divisive and ideological. Let me assure you they are.


October 29th, 2010
6:39 pm


I gave you credit, mistakenly so, for understanding the difference between a sin of commission and a sin of omission.

I apologize for assuming a modicum of intelligence and sincerity.

My bad.

Don’t forget to vote November 3rd.

Ex Republican

October 29th, 2010
6:55 pm

Take note DawgDad. The Stewart/Colbert rally is not a political rally. Stewart honestly invited O’Reilly to attend and speak. When Arianna Huffington started talking down the tea-partiers on The Daily Show, Stewart immediately shut her down and made it clear that tea-partiers are very welcome; Stewart knows the meaning of inclusive. From Stewart’s action’s large and, very importantly, small it is clear that this rally is about people coming together for rational and factually based discussion on how best to improve the lives of everyday people while sharing a good time and making new friends. What can be more American?


October 29th, 2010
7:18 pm

Another ex-Republican here. Gone are the days when I will just blithley vote for the guy with the (R) after his name. Eight years of that lying dumbass Bush, and his rubber stamping GOP majority in Congress most of that time, did it for me. Lot’s of others too I suspect.


October 29th, 2010
10:10 pm

JAN 7:19…..Are you serious or just a complete idiot? Please list all the great things Obozo,has done for us……and don’t start with Obozocare ’cause nobody knows what it entails……


October 30th, 2010
6:00 am

Is it just me, or is anyone else skeptical about the administration’s last minute terror plot win? Or was it just a 4th quarter end run to make the voters think that those in power are alert and on the ball? I would not put it past them. When conservatives act, it is almost always in the best interest of the country. When liberals act, it is almost always an attempt to hang onto or grab more power over someone’s hard-earned money so that can “re-distribute” wealth.

Orange Alert: its not just for midterms anymore

October 30th, 2010
10:20 am

Orange U glad Bush was our prez and invented phony terrorist alerts?


October 30th, 2010
1:30 pm

“When conservatives act, it is almost always in the best interest of the country.”

Were the K st. dealings in our best interest?

“All the lies and still some belive in the GOP.”

The same could be said of the Dems. They play number games just like the GOP. Neither party has the moral, or ethical, authority to be in charge. It’s not left vs. right its about this special interest vs. that special interest.


October 30th, 2010
4:39 pm

The democrats have never had a bearded candidate for President. It is that simple. If Barack grew a beard he would be in like flynn. Now Mohammad had a beard and he did ok. Sooooo there you go.
Abraham Lincoln had a beard when he was elected. Politicians try to hard to be politically correct with expensive suits, capped teeth and contact lenses and making those odd gestures with their forefinger and thumb touching as if that signaled something important that they were about to say.
Look at Nancy, she has had sooooo many face lifts. Apearance and flashing lights smile and they win every time.


October 31st, 2010
8:56 am

Yes, Republicans DO agree with parts of Obamacare, and have all along. The GOP has always stood for ending limits on pre-existing conditions, reducing health care premiums (oh right, ObamaCare increases those”) and getting affordable insurance to those who don’t have it. So, to say that the GOP ‘actually supports” part of Obamacare disingenuously implies that the GOP is contradicting itself when it says it wants to repeal it. It’s not. The GOP however put forth a plan, under McCain and others, that 1) does not mandate the purchase of health insurance, 2) allows purchase across state lines 2)improves medicaid access and enrollment, 3) removes limits on pre-existing conditions and 4) removes the tie between employment and health care. So if anything, the democrats chose the choicest parts of the GOP plan (or, idea that everyone agrees with) and used entirely the wrong way to achieve improvements in quality and cost of care. The GOP are not the enemy here, not when its the Democrats that controlled the house since 2006, when the deficit really started to climb.

Remote Controller

October 31st, 2010
9:02 am

Silly comment on money spent in this election as, once again, Dems have out spent and out whined!!

» Blog Archive » Sunday Headlines

October 31st, 2010
9:22 am

[...] Vegas Review-Journal The Grand Old Plot Against the Tea Party – Frank Rich, New York Times A Majority, If the GOP Can Keep It – Bob Barr, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Democrats Blaming the Victims – Nolan Finley, [...]