The old, tired year 2010 is getting ready to exit stage right, and the bright, shiny year 2011 is getting ready to crawl onto the national stage. Today we will get the last of the stories looking back at what has happened over the last 12 months. Tomorrow the focus will be on what might happen over the next 12 months.
On the national scene, there is a lot of uncertainty, which should make 2011 very interesting indeed. President Obama had a tough 2010, with falling public approval ratings, a bad economy, and mounting public concern about spending and debt, and the Democratic Party took a shellacking in the 2010 election as a result. But the President nevertheless managed to accomplish some of his initiatives in the lame duck session of Congress, leading some people to talk about a comeback. In 2011, will we in fact see a comeback by the President and a resurgence of some of the passionate support he received in the 2008 election?
In Congress, the big story will be the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the increased Republican minority in the Senate. In the past two years, House Republicans have been unified in opposing many of the President’s initiatives, but maintaining unity when you are running the show can be more difficult. How will the new Speaker John Boehner and the House Republicans address spending and debt issues, and will they be able to affect the implementation of the “health care reform” legislation and some of the regulatory initiatives that are of such concern to members of the “tea party”? In the Senate, where the rules and practices require consensus, how will Harry Reid and his slimmer majority deal with Republicans? Will the two Houses of Congress, controlled by two different parties, be able to reach agreement on their competing versions of basic legislation like spending bills? And will President Obama then wield his veto pen?
Pundits may be predicting what will happen, but the reality is that no one knows. That is what will make 2011 such an interesting year.