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Mid-Term Elections and the Effect on Total Rewards

Nov. 4, 2010 — Scottsdale, Ariz. — In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's U.S. election, pundits and media sources began speculating about what might happen in the next one to two years in the new landscape. Following is a list of items related specifically to the total rewards field:

On Legislation and Regulation
WorldatWork Public Policy Analyst Katie Vlietstra sees three areas of potential action affecting total rewards: health care, financial reform and Social Security/entitlement reform. She noted that that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives likely will pass a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (signed in earlier this year by Pres. Barack Obama) but it will die in the Senate, thus forcing supporters of repeal to shift their attention to the appropriations process to weaken the health-care law.

Regarding the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform (financial reform) law signed by the president over the summer, Vlietstra noted that minor changes to key provisions of the new law are likely. Finally, she indicated that the Obama Administration likely will shift its efforts away from the legislative arena to the regulatory arena in the next two years, where the president can guide some change through his executive branch agencies outside of the contentious legislative debate.

On Health-Care Reform
Regarding the talk by some newly-elected members of Congress of their desire to change or perhaps repeal the health-care reform law, WorldatWork Practice Leader Lenny Sanicola, CCP, CBP, GRP, CEBS, SPHR, said, "There is already ample confusion in the practitioner community about the multitude of provisions and timelines in the health-care law, so any changes or delays will simply make a complex situation even more complex for practitioners."

Echoing Sanicola, Katie Kuehner-Hebert, reporting in Human Resource Executive Online, said that the GOP's taking control of the House might cause some corporate benefits managers to slow or completely abandon their continued forward progress to implement the multitude of employer-related provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On Rewards for Federal Workers
In the "Federal Eye" column of The Washington Post, Ed O'Keefe noted that the shift to GOP-control of the House means potentially big things for federal workers and their rewards. "(In the new Congress) bills to freeze or cut federal pay, to fire federal workers who are delinquent taxpayers, and to limit or reduce the federal workforce soon will get a friendlier hearing," he wrote. O'Keefe added a caveat, however: Although the bills will have a more receptive environment on Capitol Hill, they won't necessarily pass the Senate and/or be signed by the president.

Finally, following is a summary of several of the Senate and House races that were closely monitored by the WorldatWork Public Policy team due to their potential impact on total rewards issues:

In Arkansas, incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) lost her seat to Rep. John Boozman (R). During her tenure in the Senate, Lincoln was vocal on a number of total rewards issues and was a strong advocate for workplace flexibility and work-life effectiveness. In the 111th Congress, the defeated Lincoln sponsored S. Res. 296, the resolution designating National Work and Family Month, as well as S. 26, the Working Family Child Assistance Act, S. 1612, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan Promotion and Improvement Act, and S. 3811, the Military Family-Friendly Employer Award Act.

In the race to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Mike Castle (R) in Delaware's only House seat, John Carney (D) defeated Glen Urquhart (R). The seat is important because Delaware is the state in which 50% of the publicly traded corporations in the United States are incorporated, along with 60% of the Fortune 500 companies. Because of this, it is likely that newly elected Carney will take an interest in committees and legislation that affect large employers.

In Florida's 8th Congressional District, former state senator Daniel Webster (R) defeated incumbent Rep. Alan Grayson (D). This race took on additional importance due to Grayson's sponsorship in the 111th Congress of two total rewards-related bills: H.R. 1664, the Pay for Performance Act of 2009, and H.R. 2564, the Paid Vacation Act of 2009.

New Hampshire
In New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) lost to former Mayor Frank Guinta (R). Shea-Porter was a member of the Education and Labor Committee, and served on the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. In the 111th Congress, she was a co-sponsor of H.R. 2161, the Family and Medical Leave Restoration Act.

In Ohio's Senate race, former Rep. Rob Portman (R) defeated Democrat Lee Fisher for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. George Voinovich (R). During his two terms, Voinovich often was active on total rewards-related legislation, most notably with issues related to the federal workforce.

In Ohio's 15th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D) was defeated by former state senator Steve Stivers (R). As a member of the Financial Services Committee, Kilory was a critic of what she often deemed excessive executive compensation and unfair corporate practices.

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Mon November 22, 2010 2:14 AMReport Abuse
Marcellinus Nwaogu
EAP Advisor
Comments: 3

The out come of the mid term election was not a surprise to many.  Americans want a quick fix to their economy but are not ready to make the necessary sacrifice. The impact on total reward will be more money and benefits for those who are working and continued industrial flight which is gradually turning America into a comsumer nation.  More company will relocation to places where the cost of labour will be cheap.That means more job loss.