Doing consulting work involves a fair amount of travelling and, during the run-up to the US mid-term elections in November, this traveller saw an overwhelming number of political commercials. Two messages were clear:
1) Virtually every Republican Senate and House candidate emphasised that a vote for the Democrat opponent was a vote for president Barack Obama's policies.
2) Most Democrats worked hard to disassociate themselves from the president.
The election is widely viewed as a rejection of the president’s policies and his championing of a 'progressive' and activist government. The country is seen by many as on the wrong track and the government is seen as less than competent – doing the wrong things, not performing very well and getting in the way of a robust economic recovery.
Republican House and Senate candidates advocated relief and reform, to undo much of what has been done in the past six years and to implement pro-growth policies, short-handed as less tax, less spend and less regulation. Republican governors were also overwhelmingly successful and now lead 35 states. Their campaigns fit within the same framework, but with more specificity – to do the right things well.
But, even after a 'wave' election, polling shows there is a substantial minority holding widely divergent views on root causes and proposed cures – on the economy, terrorism, even the weather. It is as though each party represents a different country.
Nevertheless, a few changes impacting direct investment that may receive early attention:
- Taxes – perhaps beginning with a deal to enable repatriation of international earnings, leading to more mergers and acquisitions as well as greenfield investments.
- Energy – the pipeline from Canada, exploration on public lands, exporting natural gas.
- Immigration – visa programmes for skilled professionals and temporary workers, as one of the initial elements of an incremental reform programme.
Daniel Malachuk works with business and government leaders on global direct investment strategies. He has advised many of the world's leading companies and served in the public sector as director of White House operations. Email: email@example.com