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Voters still unsure who they want doing what in Washington this year: Gallup

January 18, 2011 |  5:22 am

House of Representatives Full Swearing In 1-5-11

Americans appear undecided for now on which side they want driving the political agenda in Washington these days.

We first realized this late last Nov, 2 when voters, who can't do anything about the ex-state senator in the White House for another 658 days, instead produced an historic eviction of Democrats from the House of Representatives and shaved that party's majority in the Senate.

While taking no blame for the political slaughter, President Obama called it a "shellacking" and said this time he was really, really intent on focusing on the problem of jobs, which the....

...public has been demanding for more than two years now but it had to wait for the overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress to get some other stuff out of the way that it had promised to various constituencies that already have jobs.

Now, the voters' November collective indecision is confirmed by a new Gallup Poll. It shows that nearly half of Americans (45%) think Obama should be in charge. While slightly fewer (42%) think the Republicans should be at the wheel.

The question is both irrelevant and crucial because Congress gets back to business this week after a Tucson time-out. Today they'll debate healthcare in the House and tomorrow the new Republican majority intends to fulfill a campaign promise and vote on repealing last year's massive healthcare legislation, which in GOP-speak is called job-killing (or to be less violent, job-snuffing) Obamacare.

Here's what will happen Wednesday: The Republican-controlled House will vote to repeal the whole dad-gummed deal and then Thursday will start on implementing its favorite parts of healthcare reforms. (Watch for any Democrat House defectors to the GOP side, having seen the price in their own unemployment that so many Obamacare supporters paid Nov. 2.)

Here's what will happen as a result of the House repeal vote: Nothing.

Here's why: Even if Republicans controlled the Senate, which they don't, the president of the United States sets the political agenda in Washington. Regardless of party. Without two-thirds opposition in both houses, his veto rules.

Americans indicated back in November -- and now again in this new Gallup Poll -- that they wanted a brake job, a little more political balance in D.C. But not yet enough to really change control.

The next opportunity for further adjustments comes Nov. 6, 2012.

So, between now and then, Republicans will earnestly fail at doing what they promised their base they would, as evidence that voters should select more GOP folks in 2012. And Democrats will point to the GOP efforts as proof of the awful destruction sure to be wrought if their base keeps wandering toward the right side.

If, as seems likely, little gets done in that interim, voters will decide which party to blame for trying to live with the indecision those same voters imposed two months ago.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Joshua Bloomberg / Bloomberg

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