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It's Pedal to the Metal for Obama

I met with my next Congressman, John Garamendi, who will be replacing Ellen Tauscher, after Hillary bumped her up to an Asst. Secretary of State job. John comes to the seat via UC Berkeley, the Harvard Business School, a Peace Corps stint in Ethiopia, the California State Assembly and Senate, Deputy Secretary of the Interior under Clinton, and state Lieutenant Governor. While the general election is not until November, his win is assured by the 18% lead the Dems have over the Republicans in California’s 10th Congressional district. The timing for Garamendi is unfortunate, as his 15 years as the Golden State’s first elected insurance commissioner would come in handy in the health care debate, which will be decided by then. One of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, on the map it looks like either a butterfly flipped over on its side, or a giant Rorschach test. This is not an easy area to represent. It includes big helpings of liberal San Francisco suburbanites balanced with conservative Central Valley farmers, and includes the worst Berkeley radicals, sizeable minority groups, cattle ranchers, and foaming at the mouth fruit farmers. Garamendi has taken the traditional liberal tack, supporting public single payer health care, the environment, education, jobs programs, infrastructure spending, and a pro-Israel foreign policy.  The insight he gave me is that Obama is assuming he will have control of both houses of Congress for only four years, so it will be pedal to the metal to get his reforms programs through quickly. Every session on the Hill will be extended to the max, and there will be no rest for the wicked. If you think this year’s donnybrook over health care was tough, wait until you see the battles over tax reform, cap & trade, and financial regulatory reform in 2010. In my world this means that politics will become a much larger factor in the markets than it ever has in the past. Better go short more dollars.