Politics: Politics AFTER the elections

Looming elections mean the media—and many others—scrutinize the motives of every political move. What voters does this influence? Why this week and not next?

This year events after the election deserve the same scrutiny.

Nov. 11 a Boise judge voided the state’s $60 million contract to provide broadband to public schools saying it should have been awarded to the lowest qualified bidder. Instead, it had been awarded to the highest campaign donor.

During the 2013 legislative session, Gov. Otter repeatedly reassured legislators and voters that the court would find the contract valid, and the Feds would come up with their 75% of contract costs. Well, he was wrong, and now Idaho taxpayers may be on the hook for a budget-breaking $45 million.

Would Idahoans have voted differently if the court had ruled earlier? Will they recall Otter if the bills do come due? Were such worries behind the after-election media attention to Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s qualifications?

And, with the election over, seven Republican states are discussing Medicaid expansion. A life-saving and budget-saving issue too hot for them before elections is finally getting serious discussion. May Idaho Republicans follow suit.

Also on the national front, gas prices dropped dramatically after the November elections. Causes for the glut in crude have been building for years: America uses 10% less gas today than it did 10 years ago while producing 70% more than when Obama took office. Yet prices rose $0.40 from December to May and dropped little for weeks after that. Now, suddenly, they are dropping a dime or more a week. Were the cuts delayed as payback for the billions oil companies receive from their minions in Congress each year?

Few seem to doubt that Obama purposely waited until after the election to announce a change in immigration policy allowing work permits for parents of U.S.-born children who have been in the U.S. since 2010. It was sure to anger many voters, and the chief benefactors can’t vote.

On Dec. 10 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a chilling report on the C.I.A.’s use of torture. It revealed that torture was not only more widely used than the C.I.A. admitted, but also provided no new information of value. The report also revealed failures in oversight of the program and confusion about who knew what when. An October release might have significantly increased Democratic turnout at the polls.

Last week’s Senate confirmation of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general of the United States caused hardly a ripple. For a year Senators kowtowed to the National Rifle Association, which objected to Murthy’s views on gun control. But, once all the votes had been cast and all the donations spent, the doctor’s appointment sailed through.

Finally, we saw a $1.1 trillion government funding bill pass with hardly a mention of cuts in benefits and taxes. Republicans did insist on funding the National Security Agency only until February so they can pressure Obama to back down on immigration policy. (Issuing of work permits isn’t expected to start for six months.)

Definitely, many Democrats are angry about non-related provisions added at the last minute. The worst, written by Wall Street lobbyists, guarantees that taxpayers will again cover bank losses from gambling on derivatives—not investments but gambles on the rise and fall of investments.

Most Democrats, however, accepted this major step back from reforms passed during Obama’s early years, as the cost of getting a new budget without Republicans forcing a government shutdown.

Amazing what gets done when the leadership quits worrying about those pesky voters.