The economy will most certainly impact the results of today’s 2010 mid-term elections, but how will the elections affect the economy moving forward?
That’s a crucial — perhaps the most crucial — question as America moves toward 2011 and hopefully away from the economic crisis and recession.
Power Shift on the Way?
The Republican party is primed to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, according to The New York Times‘ Election Forecast Center. While the U.S. Senate should remain in the control of the Democrats by a margin of 52-to-48, Republicans are set to snare 232 of the 435 available seats in the House. The Times’ forecast, which is based on polls from around the nation, calls for close races in both sections of Congress, leaving the nation in an uncertain place heading into the third year of Obama’s presidency.
If Republicans do take control of one or more halves of Congress, we can expect to see some changes in the way and frequency financial laws are pushed through the legislature. Obama and the Democratic members of Congress in the past two years have had difficulty enacting new laws against Republican and public opposition. The administration has scored several victories, most notably the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Small Business Jobs Act. The Dodd-Frank Act was trumpeted as a triumph for consumers and a blow to the banking industry, as it set more stringent oversight rules and required extra disclosure on the part of financial companies. The verdict is still out on the Small Business Jobs Act, which, much to the dismay of Republicans, set aside $42 billion to try to spur small business loans and in turn ramp up hiring.
If Republicans take control of the House the Obama administration will have a tougher time passing economic measures. If you’re a fan of keeping government spending in check, that could be a good thing. If you’re a fan of using stimulus funds and government programs to try to pump life into the economy, that’s a bad thing. No matter the results of the mid-terms, the ramifications will be interesting to follow.
“Banking issues are going to be front and center, no matter who controls Congress,” William Donovan, a partner at Venable LLP who spent three decades representing financial firms before Congress, said in a release. “Revisiting portions of Dodd-Frank, retooling or possible wind-down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHA reforms, reassessing the purpose of the Community Reinvestment Act – regardless of who’s chairing the Senate Banking and the House Financial Services Committees, you can count on these issues being the subject of lively hearings and legislative action.”
Desperate for Change
The push in the past few months toward conservatism and away from Democratic incumbents can, in part, be traced back to the nation’s glacially slow economic recovery. Back in 2008, current U.S. President Barack Obama and a host of Democratic members of Congress campaigned on a platform that was heavy on promises of change. That message appealed to citizens who were tired of the economic woes that came with the recession, which began in late 2007.
The economy has improved since then, but it hasn’t returned to the stratospheric levels at which it once resided. In the wake of the expensive stimulus plan, Obama has struggled to shake the public’s perception of him as a high-tax, big-spending president, despite the fact he has cut taxes for the vast majority of working families.