Political Environment: The Battle Begins in Earnest

The economy is in good shape for starting a new year, but lines have already been drawn in the sand where our political engine is concerned. Republicans have a long list of pent-up priorities, including the Keystone Pipeline, repealing portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and reversing the president’s executive action enabling about 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S.

Though wielding somewhat less power, Democrats and the administration will continue to focus on tax reform, infrastructure funding and foreign trade.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “CIO Outlook: Themes for 2015 and Beyond,” from Merrill Lynch, Winter 2015.] [CLICK HERE to read the article, “GOP agenda for Congress: Challenge Obama, prove they can govern,” from CNN.com, Jan. 6, 2015.] [CLICK HERE to read the article, “With GOP Congress incoming, Obama plots his 2015 strategy,” from CBSNews.com, Jan. 3, 2015.]

Despite holding a majority in both houses of Congress, Republicans may have trouble overturning previous legislation. However, there are strategies available to help them. One is the budget reconciliation process, a one-time per year tactic that requires only 51 votes in the Senate as opposed to the 60 needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Note that this tactic may be used only for budget-related items. For example, it could repeal tax subsidies offered on the health care exchanges, but it cannot be applied to the individual or employer health care mandates.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Republicans eye reconciliation route in bid to repeal Obamacare,” from The Washington Times, Jan. 1, 2015.] [CLICK HERE to read the article, “Republicans to Chip at Obamacare by Redefining Work Hours,” from Bloomberg, Nov. 7, 2014.]

Republicans may be able to successfully pass laws in both chambers of Congress, but the president has the power to veto, and he has confirmed that he will do so for any legislation that threatens the viability of the health care act. This may prove to be a challenging prospect for opponents, because to overturn a veto they must have a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Obama on GOP Congress: I’ll probably need my veto pen,” from USA Today, Dec. 29, 2014.]

While the new dynamic in Washington is sure to make for interesting headlines this year, it’s important that we don’t become distracted by politics. When it comes to making our own financial decisions, some of the most important factors are our personal goals, tolerance of market risk and timeline for when we need money. Please contact us for help in making independent decisions this year.


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