When it comes to midterm elections, history has not favored the serving president’s political party. In 2002 George W. Bush and the Republican Party broke the pattern and gained seats in the House. About the wins, former White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said, “Not only have we kept the House, but we’ve gained seats. This is the first time since the Civil War.”
Midterm Elections Breaking Trend
Not since 1962 had a sitting president’s political party gained the majority of the seats in the House during midterm elections. President John F. Kennedy was serving the nation at the time. And even he didn’t fare as well as President Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1934. Democrats gained nine seats in the House and nine seats in the Senate in 1934. The economic climate in the country was muddy.
It was the same year that the first New Deal agencies were put into place in the hopes of creating regulatory protections that would prevent the country from experiencing another major depression. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was one of those New Deal agencies.
The SEC is the regulatory agency that currently polices banks, financial investment companies and some hedge funds. Although the SEC turned up the heat on shoddy investment practices post the stock market crash of 2007, questions still remain as to how the agency missed so many clues regarding the impending sub-prime housing market debacle.
Modern Financial Reforms and Consumer Protection
July 21, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Bill into law. Some of the key takeaways from the bill included the creation of the Financial Services Oversight Council. The Council is charged with examining the financial health of the markets. If needed, the Council can vote to have large firms sell off their assets in order to stabilize markets.
The Bill’s passing authorized financial regulators to seize troubled financial companies whose dissolution would cause a negative domino effect on other firms. Financial firms are also limited in the amount of their profits (also referred to as “betting on the house”) they can use to trade in financial markets.
Senator Christopher Dodd and Representative Barney Frank were the Bill’s chief architects. The Bill passed the Senate with a 60 to 39 vote. The Bill’s passing was one of the more largely discussed laws enacted during President Barack Obama’s first term.
Health Care Reform and Voter Impressions
The need for financial reform was clear. Another milestone law that the Obama administration passed has caused consternation among some voters and politicians. Health Care Reform was signed into law on March 23, 2010, four months before the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Bill was enacted.
The Bill passed in the House by a 219 to 212 vote. Prior to and post its passing Health Care Reform has ignited a fury of commentary, both pro and con. The new law bans placing lifetime limits on insurance coverage. Additional changes that Health Care Reform enacted include prohibiting insurance companies from charging deductibles for mammograms, pre-natal care, colonoscopies, etc. Consumers can also appeal decisions made by their insurance companies through independent third party organizations. Youth can also elect to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.
Some components of the law took place immediately. Others will not take place until 2013 and 2014. Opponents to health care reform offer that the change take health care decisions out of the hands of individual citizens and put them in the hands of the government. There is also concern that the new law will provide coverage for illegal immigrants and require consumers to purchase health care insurance they cannot afford. Where the money will come from to pay for medical coverage for millions of Americans who are not currently insured is another concern that has risen regarding healthcare reform.
November 2, 2010 Midterm Elections
Slow economic recovery, continuing high unemployment and the cost of new government policies are expected to play a role in this year’s midterm elections. America’s economic climate has remained at the helm in such a way that little discussion has been had around the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The Guardian reports that since 2008, 411 US military bases have closed in Iraq.
Five years ago the base closings and withdrawal from Iraq might have very well been front-page news. Today they have been received with somewhat of a hush. The landscape of a nation can change the focus of its people.
The pulse of America’s focus will be taken on November 2, 2010. Americans who only vote during presidential elections would do well to shake themselves out of that habit and head to a voting booth. After all, it is the vote and the voice of the Senate and the House of Representatives that often determine the course of the nation.