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Now that midterm elections are over, the elected politicians will be expected to carry out their constituents’ demands. But it’s difficult to even understand what those demands are. Did people vote for a candidate because they voted straight ticket or based on one issue such as abortion, gun control or states’ rights?
We do know the issues that were discussed in candidates’ speeches, debates and ads and can speculate those were the issues in voters’ minds when determining whom to vote for.
The three major issues that dominated 2010 election coverage by national media were health-care reform, joblessness (the economy) and the national debt.
Jobs and debt, while important, are issues that are nearly impossible to fix through short-term legislation. National economies historically recover by increases in production. There was no magic wand Congress or the president could wave to immediately fix either issue.
No candidate wants a bad economy or a spiraling national debt, leaving healthcare reform as the issue that could be readily legislated.
Health-care reform was one of the largest pieces of legislation passed since Medicare in 1965 from a fiscal point of view and has also stirred ethical and moral debates. Many of health-care reform’s policies have not yet impacted Americans. Health care was passed just nine months ago and was fresh in voters’ minds during the election process.
Republican candidates jumped on the chance to associate health-care reform with adding to the national debt, higher taxes and government involvement in a private market, but total repeal of the health-care reform bill isn't likely as Republicans do not have a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.
If Republicans want to truly change the body of the health-care reform bill, they’ll have to wait until after the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. Only if Republicans control the House, Senate and White House will they have the opportunity to repeal or significantly change the health-care bill.
So now what?
Because the chambers of Congress are split on party lines, the next two years could be stagnant and void of major legislation unless Democrats and Republicans are willing to compromise and move away from absolute politics to work together, something that happened after the 1994 midterm elections.
We’re hoping for a return to those productive years.
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