The 2020 election is in the history books. As the dust finally settles on the presidential race, it appears that Joe Biden won a victory with the same razor-thin margin Donald Trump won the 2016 race by. In both cases a shift of less than 100,000 votes in a few states could have tipped the election the other way. Maybe the biggest surprise were polls predicting a Biden blowout that again missed the mark by wide margins, just as they did in 2016.
Given the devastating impact of the coronavirus on the nation's health and economy, it's amazing that President Trump was able to come so close to re-election. He did especially well with Latino and African-American voters who are far less liberal than Democrat leaders seem to think.
It's also a tribute to Joe Biden's steadiness that he wended his way to the presidency through a bruising primary thicket and a strong Trump closing campaign to win. And that Kamala Harris — a woman of Indian and Jamaican heritage — will serve as vice-president is a historic first.
But if I could give my old friend Mr. Biden some advice, it would be to recognize that the results of the election do not confer a mandate to veer too far from the political center. Republicans did not lose a raft of U.S. Senate seats, as polls also incorrectly predicted. They suffered only a loss of one seat, and as things stand now hold 50 seats to 48 Democrat-held seats.
There apparently will be two runoff elections this January in Georgia to determine the outcome of Senate control. Democrats would need to win both of those races to create a 50-50 Senate tie, which could then be broken with Vice President Harris' vote. That's a tall order in a closely divided state like Georgia. Look for voters there to send at least one of the two GOP incumbents back to the Senate, giving Republicans the majority.
The situation in the U.S. House is also instructive. It appears that far from losing seats there (as the polls and pundits again incorrectly predicted) the GOP did not lose a single seat and instead will gain as many as 12 seats, leaving the House closely divided.
Within the Democratic House Majority are a significant number of moderate Democrats who are not anxious to see their party move too far left. If Speaker Pelosi fails to heed this call to moderation, she could very well lose her majority in the 2022 midterm election, as she did in 2010. It's worth noting that history's not on her side, as the sitting president's party has lost seats in 8 out of the last 10 midterm elections.
At state levels across the country Republicans also exceeded expectations. Republicans picked up a governorship, didn't lose a single state House, and flipped control of three formerly Democratic legislatures.
All of this leads me to conclude that President Biden would be well advised to concentrate his efforts on defeating the coronavirus and rebuilding the U.S. economy. There's great progress being made on developing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Let's get it produced and distributed to every American. And there's still a need to help businesses and workers who were hit hard by the economic impact of the epidemic. Let's get them the help they need.
What will not be helpful is a misguided push to increase taxes on American businesses and workers during a fragile economic recovery. A vast majority of economists agree that raising taxes in a recession is counterproductive. Especially damaging would be saddling America taxpayers with increased capital gains taxes that stifle investment. And this is no time to hike up corporate taxes either.
The tax relief enacted in 2017 helped produce an economic boom only COVID-19 could undo. President-elect Biden's campaign slogan was "Build Back Better." Let's build on the economic progress we made before coronavirus hit and build on the American electorate's mandate for moderation!
Former Senator Alfonse D’Amato served a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Senate, where he chaired the Senate Banking Committee and was a member of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees. While in the Senate, Mr. D’Amato also Chaired of the U.S. Commission on Cooperation and Security in Europe (CSCE), and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former Senator is considered an expert in the legislative and political process, who maintains close relationships with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. He is regularly called upon for his advice and counsel, and is recognized for his incisive analysis of national and international political affairs. The former Senator will share insights gained from his years in Washington “with a clear-eyed view of the political forces that shape the world we live in today.” Read Alfonse D'Amato's Reports — More Here.
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