Forecast

What would a GOP-controlled House do? 5 theories

Say it is Nov. 3, and the Republicans have retaken Congress. What happens next? Pundits weigh in with predictions

The current conventional wisdom holds that Republicans will win control of the House on Nov. 2, says Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post, but fall short of winning a majority in the Senate — throwing Washington into unfamiliar territory. Not since 1930, Tumulty points out, has the House "changed hands without the Senate following suit." But what would it mean practically to have a Republican-controlled House filled with new Tea Party insurgents and old-guard Republicans? (Watch a CBS discussion about the GOP's midterm chances.) Here, pundits predict what such a House would do:

1. Shuffle chairs
First step: The inevitable game of musical chairs. That means out with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), says Chris Weigant at Capitol Hill Blue, and, most likely, in with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): "I seriously doubt that Boehner would face a leadership challenge... No matter how many Tea Party candidates win in the House, I just don't see 'Speaker Ron Paul' in an upset leadership vote." Further predictions from Daniel Stone in Newsweek: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) as majority leader, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) as appropriations chairman, and spotlight-loving Rep. Daryl Issa (R-CA) as head of the oversight committee.

2. Change the rules of the House
Congressional Republicans devoted much of their "Pledge to America" to reforming Congress. "And with good reason," say Stone, Eleanor Clift, and Andrew Romano in Newsweek. With President Obama wielding a veto pen, "it's perhaps the only policy area where a Republican House will largely be able to do what it pleases." Boehner's long "wish list" of reforms includes putting all bills online 72 hours before the House votes on them and requiring each bill to include a section justifying its constitutionality.

3. Move to "repeal Obamacare"
Undoing the Democrats' health-care-reform law passed earlier this year would be a top priority. "There will be no compromise on repealing Obamacare," Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the No. 3 House Republican, told radio host Hugh Hewitt recently. "Let me say again: No compromise." A repeal won't actually be possible, says Newsweek. So, instead "Republicans will focus on gumming up the works," trying to find ways to strip the bill of funding.

4. Extend "Bush tax cuts"
As a GOP-controlled House and the White House begin the test "the balance of power," says Jackie Calmes in The New York Times, expect a clash over which of the Bush-era tax cuts to extend. Republicans will win that fight, extending the cuts for all income levels, says James Pethokoukis at Reuters. Unlike Democrats, "Republicans are unified on the issue, including moderates who fear Tea Party primary challenges in 2012 if they blink."

5. Embrace "gridlock"
One of the first decisions Republicans would have to make is whether to compromise with Obama and the Democrats or stick to their guns. Given that the no-compromise faction with the GOP is more vocal, "the most you can expect is two years of good old-fashioned gridlock," Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) told a Utah State University audience last week. "To be honest," says Doug Mataconis in Outside the Beltway, a "do-nothing Congress" appeals "to my libertarian inclinations." But, says David Dayen in Firedoglake, even if government inaction is acceptable in a good economy, "during a jobs crisis, gridlock is a terrible enemy."

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