Deadlock has characterized the Government of the United States since the midterm elections of 2010. Not much got done during 2009 and 2010, either, despite Democratic Party control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress. In 2009 the Great Recession was in full swing. The national deficit was unprecedented: tax receipts were low and payments for social services hit record levels.
Now the economy is back to something approaching normal, and so is politics. Armies of people who thought they were getting rich in the real estate market, and then lost their life savings, are no longer marching around with pitchforks threatening to tar and feather, or at least un-elect, incumbent politicians.
No one noticed the resilience of the system that was set up as the result of the compromise between free-market capitalism and socialism that is still known as the New Deal. The Federal Reserve probably should have done more to prevent the crisis, but in the end muddled through. Congress should have done more, but in the end muddled through. Businesses mostly muddled through. Workers got the shaft as usual, but are a tough lot and mostly muddled through.
Deadlock does not mean there is no policy. It means federal policy will remain the same as it has been since the Democratic Party, led by Bill Clinton, tried to destroy the welfare state, figuring it was no longer needed to elect Democrats to office. What choice did the welfare bums and working poor have, voting Republican?
For 2015 and 2016 we can expect business as usual. Obscene amounts of money will be spent on the War on Terror. A new federal Highway/Transportation deal will be made, because both parties get paid off by the contracting companies. Food stamps won't go away, but as employment rises less people will get them. The Affordable Care Act won't go away, because the Insurance Companies are making more money than ever, as are the doctors and hospital administrators.
The only real difference is Fracking. Complain about water pollution if you will, but Fracking has given the U.S. post-imperialist economy a second wind. The first effect of fracking was a big increase in incomes in the gas and oil states. That helped local economies and even the federal deficit. Now, after a few years of ramping production, everyone is benefiting from lower gasoline and natural gas prices.
Meanwhile, Chinese workers got big raises every year between 2008 and 2104, so now the cost of labor is not that big of an advantage for China any more. Their advantage is that almost all of the factories were moved to China in the meantime. We are not going to see many factories move back to the U.S., although new ones are already opening here to take advantage of the proximity to oil production and a huge consumer base.
After the election the Keystone Pipeline will be approved. Environmentalists will be mad, but soon they won't have Barack Obama to kick around any more. And why, really, was the Keystone different than any other pipelines? Why not demand existing pipelines be torn up, or people just move so they can huddle around North Dakota for warmth?
Immigration policy won't change much either. People will continue to come here illegally. No matter how much overpopulation hurts the environment, the Democrats will turn a blind eye to illegal immigration because they need the votes. No matter how much illegal immigration helps the rich (by creating cheap labor and increasing overall demand) the Republicans will remain anti-immigration because that is one way they keep American workers' anger focused on ethnic issues, rather than on the exploitive economic system.
And war will go on. For the time being Ultraconservative Islam seems to be willing to play the enemy, despite the consequences. But if necessary new enemies can always be found. Turning taxes into the satisfying feeling of being the biggest bully in the world is just too satisfying to too many people for us to ever Hope that situation will Change.
People talk about the Internet of Things. They should talk about the Internet of Lies. All lying, all th time, the art of politics in America.