If Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate in this year’s elections, it will be, as Vice President Joe Biden might put it more graphically, a big deal.
Last week, elections handicapper Nate Silver gave a 60 percent probability that the Republicans would gain at least the half-dozen seats required for a majority. This wasn’t news to top party strategists. But it produced a palpable panic among Democrats along Pennsylvania Avenue, from the White House to Capitol Hill.
Rationalizations followed. Maybe the assumptions were flawed, or Republicans would overreach and set the stage for Democrats to come back in 2016. In any case, President Barack Obama has the veto pen for the last two years of his term. That glosses over the profound policy implications of a change that would affect many areas.
The Affordable Care Act: The president can stop repeal of Obamacare, but a determined congressional majority can wreak havoc by using the initial budget process, known as reconciliation, which allows major changes to be made with only a majority Senate vote that isn’t subject to veto.