What difference will it make if the Republicans win the Senate and hold the House in November? The House can already block Democratic legislation Republicans do not like, and President Obama would still be able to veto Republican legislation he does not like. The Republicans are talking of a positive, problem-solving agenda. That seems to mean passing some constructive bills President Obama could sign, thereby signaling that Washington can get things done, and some others the president would veto, thereby signaling even better days ahead following a GOP presidential victory in 2016.
Such a strategy would hold serious potential. Divided government can be both partisan and productive—as in the second Clinton administration, which brought both an impeachment trial and balanced budgets (and, for the Republicans, the prelude to control of the White House and both chambers of Congress after the 2000 elections).
A Republican Congress facing a Democratic president could, in addition, do something of transcendent importance, something that would furnish a stately frame to its policy initiatives. It could reverse Congress’s institutional decline and begin to restore the elected legislature to its vital position in our constitutional balance of power.