So, the general thoughts are that Health Care Reform will get repealed, retirement legislation will be more employer and less union friendly, and compensation restrictions will largely be gone. Hold on! We don't have a Republican President. The Republicans in Congress can say all they like and they can try for all they want, but likely the best they can do during the 112th Congress is to try to work with the Democrat Party to reach happy compromise.
Current thoughts include these:
- The Republicans will use their majority in the House and their filibuster ability in the Senate to block funding for enforcement of Health Care Reform. While this sounds good to those who would like to see Health Care Reform disappear, my opinion is that doing this will alienate many swing voters and guarantee a Democrat return to majority in the 2012 elections.
- George Miller, Chair (until January) of the House Health, Education and Labor Subcommittee, will not have the influence that he has had with a Democrat majority. His personal agenda, focused on what some would consider over-disclosure to participants, is likely to fall by the wayside. Thus, all disclosure projects in the next two years will need to come through the DOL rather than through Congress.
- As a group, the Republican Party tends to intervene much less in corporate compensation decisions than the Democrat Party, but this is a hot button for the President. Don't expect the President to give in on this one, he has referred to Wall Street "fat cats" enough times that we can be sure that he will not sign any bill that lifts restrictions on executive pay.
- Where marginal tax rates will be in 2011 will influence benefits decisions. I have my suspicion that the EGTRRA (Bush) tax cuts will remain for all taxpayers through 2012, but I sure wouldn't bet my life on it.
So, whither goeth Congress on benefits and compensation issues in the short term? I think the answer may be nowhere.