The election is over, thank God! Each general election seems to be a more enduring process every time. Or perhaps I pay too much attention to them? But, Obama won another four years and, like it or not, we will have to adjust and learn to tolerate. There are some big issues facing the lame duck Congress, like finishing the fiscal trap they set for themselves, dubbed the fiscal cliff. The folks who run the country put automatic spending cuts in play after the big to-do over the debt ceiling debates last summer. I suppose they thought they would get around to picking spending cuts carefully during an election year. Boy, they sure fooled themselves on this one.
Also, the Bush tax cuts are to expire at the end of the year, putting a double whammy on the economy. If Congress does drive off the fiscal cliff, it will be a mess. Economists have suggested it would push unemployment up towards 11 percent and roll back Gross Domestic Product 5 percent, undoubtedly throwing the economy into another recession. Death taxes would also get rolled back to a one million dollar exemption and a 55 percent tax if lawmakers chose to do nothing. This just isn’t the kind of business you leave for a lame duck Congress to deal with.
After the election, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH, extended his hand to the president and said he believes everyone is ready to go to work and solve the nation’s financial issues and willing to compromise. He said he supports raising more revenue but was adamant that he wasn’t willing to raise tax rates. Raising income tax rates on wealthy Americans has been one of Obama’s pet issues ever since he took office. One thing I never quite understood was where he came up with the arbitrary number of $250,000 as the threshold for rich.
It’s good that Boehner said Republicans were willing to work with the Democrats and the president on these seriously important fiscal issues. But there didn’t appear to be any communication between the parties during Obama’s first term and I am skeptical that they will be able to work together during the second term as well. The way Obamacare was handled was shameless and successfully got the Republicans and much of the nation pretty ticked off.
The headlines have been reading that we can expect the status quo during the next four years. In my book that means that nothing will get done, which is generally okay by me. However, I sure do hope that they dissect the Obamacare bill, remove the junk, and get their financial house in order. It’s time for a new tax code.
As far as health care is concerned, I still don’t know exactly how this bill will affect our small company. We already take care of our folks with health insurance. It’s expensive as we all know, and most agree that something had to be done to reign in the cost of health insurance.
I will never forget California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi saying that we have to pass the bill to see what’s in it. If that doesn’t give you a sense of irresponsibility from Congress, I don’t know what will. Congress has an approval rating of just 11 percent, so you can say that one in 10 people are happy with the work they do.
Obama’s second term is sure to be interesting. He has yet to replace Cass Sunstein at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Many watchdog groups are anxiously waiting to find out who his replacement will be. Obama’s choice will signal many of his intentions on passing new regulations. It seemed that Obama’s first term offered more regulations than most presidents and the rule of thumb is that presidents generally produce more regulations during a second term than their first because they don’t have to worry about re-election.
Regulations produced by Obamacare, The Environmental Protection Agency and the financial regulations produced from the Dodd Frank bill have already produced burdens for small business. The Obama administration hasn’t been terribly favorable to business in general In the past, the job of the U.S. government was promoting business, which is why we are one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Business and government worked together to make things happen. But today it seems that government is constantly creating a more difficult business climate for all businesses to deal with. I’m not saying that the government should ignore social issues, but you’ve got to admit that the social issues discussed during this last election are fairly minor issues that concern a small portion of the population. — PETE CROW