A Significant Election


The timeframe of this issue falls squarely with the final days of the 2012 election season. It’s hard to imagine an election more consequential to the industry. Both parties offer our specific industry advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at a few.


Where heating fuels are concerned, the Republicans are more a friend of oil and you could likely expect to see more emphasis placed on fossil fuels at the expense of wind and solar. The Keystone Pipeline, fracking (both oil and natural gas), drilling offshore and other fuel interests will be pursued. Given the regional and generally bipartisan nature of biofuels it’s hard to see them disappearing under a Republican administration any more than under a Democratic administration, especially since environmental groups and traditionally left-leaning media outlets have soured on those solutions to some extent. 


Where the commodities markets are concerned, the Democrats have shown at least some interest in addressing the commodities markets to shift them back to the more regulated ear pre 2000. Functionally though, there seems to be little real interest from the Obama administration in giving those efforts teeth. The Republicans seem to downplay excessive speculation as an issue and have lacked clarity on such market reforms beyond generally promising to work to repeal Dodd-Frank.


Where the current business environment is concerned, it’s hard to see too many advantages under a continued Obama administration given the nature of our industry and readership. Traditionally neither party appears to fully value the middle class or small business, but in areas from tax policy to monetary policy to labor regulation and beyond it is hard not to see the Republican alternative (as ill defined as it currently is) as coming out ahead. That is my opinion and I am admittedly a fiscal conservative. If you are have a Keynesian economic outlook vs. the Austrian School you might certainly disagree with that assessment. Obama care will most certainly become a reality under an Obama win and will very likely be repealed or significantly modified under a Republican win.


Where direct industry support is concerned the Democrats have tend to push a range of fuel and home improvement incentives both traditional and linked to the former stimulus that might be in jeopardy at the federal level with a Republican win. In general such incentives are hardly assured to continue under a Democrats administration (especially with a Republican Congress) as the budget does need to be trimmed and our industry might or might not have the clout to make sure we end up on the good side of the chopping block. Areas like LIHEAP funding have consistently been pressured in the past four years. Most certainly a future stimulus will be a hard sell but that applies even with an Obama win.


Beyond these areas are the more general domestic policy, foreign policy and long-term economic arguments for supporting one party over the other. I have my opinions on those as do we all. Regardless of your political leanings this will clearly be one of the most, if not the most, significant election in many years.


 

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