The good news about Republicans recently gaining a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is that they will be able to block any huge, wasteful new spending bills that Democrats may propose. It is unlikely, for instance, that President Barack Obama will be able to muscle another massive, counterproductive "stimulus" bill into law.
The bad news is, even strong control of the House will not give Republicans the ability to reverse some of the massive deficit spending that Democrats in Congress and the president have enacted over the past two years.
Despite GOP gains in the Senate, Democrats still have a big majority there. It is unlikely that the Democrat majority is going to be open to Republican spending cuts, much less to efforts to roll back ObamaCare socialized medicine.
Plus, even if Republicans could get enough Democrats on their side in the Senate to enact real spending reforms, it is virtually certain that the president would veto them.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pointed out that basic truth a few days after the election.
"The fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all of those things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things," McConnell said in a speech at The Heritage Foundation.
That makes the presidential and the congressional elections of 2012 vitally important. Though even a lot of Democrats are unhappy with the president, it seems very likely he will be their candidate again in 2012. The picture on the Republican side is murkier. No obvious "best bet" has arisen among potential GOP candidates. And who can say what the American people's mood toward Congress will be in two years?
So we are probably facing a time of gridlock in Congress -- which is not a bad thing if it prevents lots of new deficit spending. Then there will be elections that may bring greater clarity to the direction our nation will follow.
It will be an interesting two years.