American Society of Magazine Editors

Election Results Are In - MPA Plans for the Lame Duck and 2013

November 9, 2012

After nearly two years of speeches, debates, and politicking – and the expenditure of enormous amounts of campaign cash – a closely and hotly contested campaign season concluded with President Barack Obama winning re-election on November 6.  Adding to the drama of election night were the outcomes of a number of exciting Senate and House races, many of which will impact MPA’s efforts in Washington.

With Democrats retaining control of the White House and Senate (by a surprisingly large margin of 55-45), and Republicans the House, legislators will begin work in 2013 in another divided Congress.  While post-election optimism runs high (much like Spring Training in baseball) in an atmosphere of compromise and bipartisanship, difficult legislative battles lay ahead.  None is more pressing than the looming “fiscal cliff” – expiring tax cuts and large automatic reductions in domestic spending and defense programs – that the still-sitting “pre-election” Congress may try to address in the “lame duck” session that will start next week.  Also feeding the budgetary fire are the expiring Bush tax cuts and a host of other end-of-year spending issues.  Given the “status quo” result of the election, it is likely that “lame duck” legislators may opt for short term solutions to the fiscal issues via a series of temporary deadline extensions into 2013, and leave it to the new Congress to tackle more permanent solutions. 

Both parties seem to agree in principle on two policy goals: (1) the need for reductions in spending and increases in revenue as the means of dealing with the burgeoning federal budget deficit; and (2) the need for fundamental tax reform. The parties, however, remain far apart on the ways of attaining those goals. Corporate and individual tax rates undoubtedly will be “in play,” as will the full panoply of tax credits and deductions – including the deductibility of advertising expenses.

The results of the election also increase the possibility that postal reform legislation could advance in the near future, either during the lame duck session, or early in 2013. With Democrats retaining control of the Senate, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), a lead sponsor of the bill, will chair the Senate committee of jurisdiction in 2013. He and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the primary Republican advocate for postal reform in the Senate are expected to push hard to get reform legislation over the finish line before the end of the current session next month. House Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who was easily re-elected on Tuesday, also would like to conclude action on postal legislation in the lame duck session if possible, or in early 2013. The differences that remain between the House and Senate postal bills will have to be resolved, of course, before final action can be taken.

Among other notable election results, in the 113th (2013/2014) Congress, long time House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) will be term-limited out of his Chairmanship role and in all likelihood be replaced by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who has been a strong proponent of intellectual property protection.  A notable loss on the Committee will be the departure of Howard Berman (D-CA), the Congress’s leading copyright expert who, as a result of redistricting, lost one of the fiercest battles of the election season to fellow Democrat Brad Sherman (D-CA).  Other notable changes are the election losses of Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA), both of whom have been heavily involved in the debates on privacy and data security.