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Republicans Seize Congressional Power

posted on November 5, 2010

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. The U.S. economy enjoyed a net gain in jobs last month, as businesses picked up their painfully slow hiring pace.

According to the Labor Department, U.S. employers added 151,000 positions to their payrolls in October in their first increase since May. But the national unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.6 percent for the third consecutive month.

Employers also extended the average work week to 34.3 hours. The additional jobs and longer work week are expected to boost incomes, and prompt increased consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of the economy.

And with inflation virtually nowhere to be found, the Federal Reserve announced its plans on "quantitative easing," a monetary policy that essentially pumps cash into the economy hoping to entice consumers to borrow and spend.

So far this year, the economy has added 874,000 jobs, but the improvement pales when compared to the 8 million positions lost in 2008 and 2009.

Since it takes at least 100,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with population growth, it will take much faster job creation to cut the unemployment rate, which has exceeded 9.5 percent for 15 months.

High unemployment was a key issue for voters in the midterm elections this week. And the largest shift in congressional power in decades resulted in some new leadership in Washington.

Republicans Seize Congressional Power

The cyclical pendulum of electoral midterms swung hard at incumbents…particularly Democrats. A 2010 Republican tidal wave swept across much of the country including numerous Congressional races in southern states and throughout the Midwest.

Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Senator-elect: "We have come to take our government back!"

Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania.), Senator-Elect: "Thank you, Pennsylvania."

Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), Senator-elect: "We are 800 miles from any ocean, but a tsunami just hit the heartland."

Republicans snared key Senate races in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and a handful of additional states including a decisive victory over Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. The two-term Democrat and chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee lost by more than 20 percent Tuesday. But Democrats won enough seats to maintain control of the U.S. Senate, enabling the party to keep control of key committees. The next agriculture chair will likely be North Dakota's Kent Conrad or Michigan's Debbie Stabenow.

Regardless of committee posturing, the Senate Majority Leader will still be Nevada's Harry Reid. First elected in 1987, Reid survived his toughest re-election effort yet --- a multi-million dollar national campaign to oust the four-term Democrat.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada: "The founding fathers, in their wisdom, said that the House of Representatives is going to be different than the Senate. And the only way you can get things done today in the Senate and in 1789 in the Senate was with compromise. You have to work together."

The Senate's current and likely future minority leader Mitch McConnell argued Democrats must take notice after election day.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky: "Ignoring the voters and their wishes, as you could see during the entire two-year period, produces predictable results. I would say to our friends on the other side of the aisle -- and listening to what they have had to say this morning, they may have missed the message somewhat. I get the impression they're thinking -- their view is that we haven't cooperated enough."

Despite Reid's narrow victory, voters nationwide tossed Congressional Democrats out of office and swept Ohio Representative John Boehner into the likely position of Speaker of the House.

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio: "Last night, the president was kind enough to call me. We discussed working together on the American peoples' priorities: cutting spending, creating jobs. We're going to continue and renew our efforts for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government here in Washington, D.C."

The Republican takeover of the U.S. House was the largest shift in a Congressional election since the Great Depression as voter sentiment cast aside dozens of long-term incumbents. The power shift now places Oklahoma's Frank Lucas as the likely chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Lucas has worked on farm bills during the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations and will likely wield considerable power during the 2012 farm bill negotiations. But Congress has a flurry of other topics to discuss long before the next farm bill even arrives for a committee vote.

President Obama: "Some election nights are more fun than others. Some are exhilarating. Some are humbling."

President Obama, acknowledging Democratic losses during a White House press conference this week, signaled voters demanded that Washington lawmakers must work in a bipartisan fashion.

President Obama: "And, you know, I think that there's no doubt that as I reflect on the results of the election it underscores for me that I have got to do a better job, just like everybody else in Washington does."

Tags: campaign 2010 Congress elections news politics Republicans