United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: November 14, 2012
Type: Report


The President 

President Barack Obama won a second term in a solid 332-206 Electoral College victory over challenger Mitt Romney.  The President's re-election means that a majority of voters believe an economy that works for everyone and is built from the "middle out" is the right path for America.  He is committed to finding bipartisan solutions to create jobs, reduce our deficit in a balanced way and cut taxes for middle class families and small businesses.    

United States Senate

Democrats held on to their margin in the Senate and picked up two seats (IN & MA).  The Democrats hold  53 Senate seats, the Republicans hold 45 Senate seats with two Independent Senate seats held by  Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Angus King (I- ME), who will caucus with the Democrats.    

United States House of Representatives

Republicans maintained control of the House with 234 Republicans and 196 Democrats with 5 uncalled races as of November 14.   The 113th Congress will welcome 79 freshmen members -  44 Democrats and 35 Republicans.  

The House races that remain undecided (as of November 14) are:  AZ-2 (Gabby Giffords old seat) Ron Barber (D) v Martha McSally (R);  CA-7 Ami Bera (D) v Dan Lungren (R); CA-52 Scott Peters (D) v Brain Bilbray (R); FL-18 Patrick Murphy (D) v Allen West (R); and NC-7 Mike McIntrye (D) v David Rouzer (R). 

Democrats Don Payne, Jr. (NJ) and Suzan DelBene (WA) and Republican Thomas Massie (KY) were sworn-in right away to fill current vacancies in the 112th Congress.  

The election results for Louisiana's 3rd District will be settled in a December 8 run-off election between two incumbent Republicans who ran against each other because of redistricting.  

Working Families, Marriage Equality and Women

In California Prop 32, which would have crippled labors' political influence, was soundly defeated.  This measure was never about campaign finance reform.    The measure would have done little to limit corporations' ability to raise campaign funds.  It was about hurting working people and silencing Unions.

Labor also helped pass a tax increase measure introduced by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown that will be used to fund education.  A similar labor-backed measure was defeated in Arizona.

In large numbers voters rejected incumbents and candidates that believe tax cuts for the wealthy need to be protected.  At least 55 Republican House incumbents and 24 Republican Senators and candidates who signed an "Americans For Tax Reform" anti-tax  pledge were defeated.  About a dozen newly elected House Republicans refused to sign the anti-tax pledge during their campaigns and another handful of returning Republicans have disavowed their allegiance to Grover Norquist's "Americans For Tax Reform", which advocates for reductions in taxes for the wealthy, special interest tax cuts and protecting tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas. 

Conservative outside groups like Karl Rove's American Crossroads and the super secretive Crossroads GPS were also big losers in the 2012 Elections.  These groups spent more than $1 billion this campaign season to oust pro-working family Democrats.  Fortunately, Mr. Rove's group and other conservative SuperPACs bankrolled by wealthy donors saw little return for their investment in the television advertisements that saturated the air waves.  GOTV efforts and voter enthusiasm trumped deep pockets on Election Day.         

Voters approved ballot measures in two states and more than 120 cities in several states calling upon legislators to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the U.S. to this unfettered campaign spending.      

For the first time in history, voters embraced marriage equality at the ballot box.  Marriage equality measures were approved by voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington State.  Minnesota voters rejected a marriage discrimination amendment. 

Female candidates and Democratic women in particular made historic gains in the elections.  The 113th Congress will have 20 female Senators, the most ever in U.S. history and the House will have at least 77, also a record.  New Hampshire will be the first state to have an all-female Congressional delegation (Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D), Kelly Ayotte (R) and newly elected Representatives Carol Shea Porter and Anne Kuster.)  New Hampshire also elected a female Governor.  


On Tuesday, November 13, the United States Congress reconvened for the lame duck session.   Between now and the end of the year, Congress will be making decisions that will have a long term effect on our economy.  The so called "fiscal cliff" comes in January 2013 when several tax cuts expire and severe cuts to government spending are triggered. 

The debate over how to bring down deficits and set our nation on a sound fiscal path now takes center stage.  Republican leadership argues that more budget cutting needs to be done through changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and any tax reform plan needs to include tax cuts for the top 2%.

A coalition of millionaires and corporate CEO's launched a $35 million "Fix the Debt" campaign calling for massive tax breaks and cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to fix the deficit.  The corporations involved in this campaign could gain up to $134 billion in windfalls if Congress approves exempting foreign earnings from U.S. corporate income tax. 

On the other hand, the labor community and progressive groups believe that to get our economy back on track we need to focus on additional investments in jobs and services, protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, letting the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% expire and requiring corporations to pay their fair share.

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