In today's Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes argues that President Obama might be hoping to get Nancy Pelosi (and the congressional Democrats) off his back:
In Washington these days, President Obama is rumored to be hoping Republicans capture the House of Representatives in the midterm election in November. There's no evidence for this speculation, so far as I know, but it's hardly far-fetched. If Mr. Obama wants to avert a fiscal crisis and win re-election in 2012, he needs House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be removed from her powerful post. A GOP takeover may be the only way.
Given the deficit-and-debt mess that Mr. Obama has on his hands, a Republican House would be a godsend. A Republican Senate would help, too. A Republican majority, should it materialize, could be counted on to pass significant cuts in domestic spending next year—cuts that Mrs. Pelosi and her allies in the House Democratic hierarchy would never countenance.
Though Mr. Obama's preferred solution to his fiscal predicament would probably be a very large tax increase, it's a nonstarter. He needs spending cuts to assuage both markets and voters. It was the surge in spending—the stimulus, omnibus budget and the health-care legislation—that prompted the tea party protests, alienated independent voters, and caused the rapid decline in his popularity.
The test is whether Mr. Obama can restrain nondefense discretionary spending. That's the spending over which Washington exerts the greatest control. Even small cuts in entitlement spending are difficult to enact, but the president and Republicans might reach agreement there as well. That would be a political bonus for Mr. Obama, softening his image as a tax-and-spend liberal. Again, this would be impossible if Ms. Pelosi still runs the House.