How House Democrats Can Stymie Trump — If They Win
Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
With the 2018 midterms only three weeks away, Democrats are hoping to recapture both houses of Congress—although polls are looking much better for them in the House of Representatives than in the Senate. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Sunday, October 14 showed an 11% advantage over Republicans on the generic congressional ballot. But while Democrats, according to pollster Nate Silver, have a four in five chance (roughly 81.3%) of retaking the House on November 6, their chances of retaking the Senate are only one in five (18.7%). Democrats have many different paths to victory in the House, whereas in the Senate, they are facing a steep uphill climb.
But even in the absence of a Democratic Senate, a Democrat-controlled House could be a major thorn in Trump’s side and result in the type of gridlock that President Barack Obama faced from January 2011 on. Obama suffered a major setback when Republicans regained the House in the 2010 midterms, and gridlock would be returning to Washington, DC with enough Democratic wins in the House next month.
Here are five ways in which a Democratic House majority—even with Republicans keeping control of the Senate—could do a lot to impede Trump’s far-right agenda in 2019.
1. A Democratic House Majority Would Never Vote to Overturn Obamacare
Republicans haven’t given up the idea of overturning the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. In 2017, the House voted to overturn the ACA, which just barely survived in the Senate—and if Republicans maintain their House and Senate majorities in the 2018 midterms, there is a strong possibility that they will take another crack at overturning the ACA next year. But with a Democratic House majority/Senate GOP majority scenario in 2019, an ACA-killing bill would never make it to President Trump’s desk to sign.
2. A Democratic House Would Not Privatize Medicare or Social Security
Republicans don’t give up on terrible ideas when they run into a brick wall; they double down on them. President George W. Bush received a great deal of criticism when he called for the privatization of Social Security, but all that criticism hasn’t prevented House Speaker Paul Ryan from fantasizing about privatizing an equally popular government program: Medicare. Ryan (who isn’t seeking reelection in 2018) would love to see traditional Medicare replaced with the privatized voucher program he fantasizes about in his Ayn Randian world, and he would love to privatize Social Security as well. But no GOP-sponsored bills calling for the privatization of Medicare or Social Security would be passed in a Democrat-controlled House in 2019.
3. A Democrat-Controlled House Would Not Vote to Outlaw Abortion Nationwide
With Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh having been confirmed to the U.S. Senate, there is a very strong possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned—which would not be a nationwide ban on abortion, but would allow abortion’s legality or illegality to be determined on a state-by-state basis. Post-Roe, one might see a scenario in which, for example, abortion would be illegal in Texas but legal across the state line in New Mexico—or illegal in Idaho but legal to the west in Washington State. However, the end of Roe would allow Republicans to outlaw abortion nationwide via Congress, and Trump would jump at the chance to make the Christian Right happy by signing a nationwide abortion ban into law. Such a ban, however, would not come about if Democrats regained the House on November 6. Roe v. Wade’s days are probably numbered, but at least half the U.S. would maintain safe and legal abortion with a Democratic House majority.
4. A Democratic House Could Investigate Trump-Related Scandals
If Republicans lose the House but keep the Senate, the chances of President Trump being removed from office via the impeachment process are slim and none. Even if a Democratic House voted to impeach Trump, the president would most likely be acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial under Sen. Mitch McConnell’s leadership. And a Democratic House majority might be fearful of overplaying its hand. But that doesn’t mean that Democrats wouldn’t be launching some very aggressive Trump-related investigations via the House if they had a majority, especially with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-related probe continuing to move along at a rapid pace. Trump has turned out to be, hands down, the U.S.’ most scandal-plagued president since Richard “Watergate” Nixon, and with the power of committees, a Democrat-controlled House could do a lot of investigating.
5. A Democrat-Dominated House Could Torpedo Additional GOP Tax Cuts for the 1%
The GOP-sponsored Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017—which gave massive tax breaks to giant corporations while offering precious little tax relief to the U.S.’ embattled poor and middle class—isn’t going to be overturned anytime soon. But if Democrats regain the House on November 6, that would prevent Republicans from expanding it and giving even more tax breaks to the 1%.
Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.