The “red tide” that swept much of the nation in Tuesday’s elections and enabled the Republicans to add control of the U.S. Senate to their dominance of the House of Representatives could prove to be beneficial to the San Joaquin Valley.
That is because two issues on which President Barack Obama and GOP lawmakers conceivably could strike a deal — immigration reform and free trade — are vital to a Valley economy that is recovering from the Great Recession and battling California’s merciless drought.
In addition, GOP members of the Valley’s Congressional delegation have been front and center in pushing immigration reform and free trade.
Rep. David Valadao of Hanford, who easily won re-election, is a leader in Republican efforts to reform immigration, bring undocumented workers out of the shadows and secure a reliable work force for Valley agriculture.
Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare, who handily won a seventh term, is highly involved with the Obama administration in negotiations to get a trade agreement with the European Union through Congress. The pact proposes to eliminate tariffs, cut quotas, streamline regulations and in other ways smooth commercial traffic among some of the world’s largest trading partners.
The United States exported $265 billion worth of goods to European countries in 2012, and that figure could grow substantially — thus creating more American jobs — with adoption of what the White House calls the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Valley growers, food processors and other businesses are poised to capitalize on the partnership.
The big question following the Democrats’ devastating defeat is whether Obama will work with Republicans to move the country forward. Or will the president exercise his veto pen and block legislation passed by the GOP-controlled House and Senate?
During his news conference Wednesday, Obama defended his leadership and his policies. He attributed the Republican victories to voter dissatisfaction with Washington partisanship and dysfunction: “The American people overwhelmingly believe this town doesn’t work very well.”
But Obama also left the door open to bipartisan cooperation.
“I look forward to Republicans putting forward their governing agenda. I will offer my ideas on areas where I think we can move together to respond to people’s economic needs. So just take one example. We all agree on the need to create more jobs that pay well. Traditionally, both parties have been for creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure — our roads, bridges, ports, waterways.”
Immigration reform. Free-trade agreements. New and rebuilt infrastructure.
The Valley would love to have all of these things.
In that the Republicans, the Democrats and Obama all need to enhance their tarnished brands, Tuesday’s midterm results could be, finally, a step in the right direction.