Congress, learn the right lessons from the midterm elections


The Capitol in Washington is quiet after lawmakers departed the for the Independence Day recess, Friday, June 30, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

Congress, learn the right lessons from the midterm elections

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We should all be celebrating the results of the midterm elections. Voters turned out in near-record numbers, suggesting that concerns about various laws restricting voting didn’t materialize.

Election Day itself was peaceful, and the vast majority of losing candidates conceded with grace. Republicans will narrowly take control of the House in January, while Democrats retain a narrow majority in the Senate.


So the “red wave” many pundits predicted turned out to be a bust. Still, the fact that several districts that went blue in 2020 elected Republicans means many people affirmatively voted for their House member to be a check and balance on President Joe Biden. Divided government is a positive for those of us who like to see things get done. It encourages — indeed, it requires — good faith negotiation in Congress rather than legislation designed to advance partisan ideas or feed into attack ads for the next election cycle. A divided government means each party can fend off the worst and most extreme ideas from the opposing party. Markets agreed: As election results clarified, the S&P 500 jumped 5%, its biggest single-day increase in years.

This election also made another thing clear: People don’t want extremist candidates. This election should have been a romp for Republicans. The party in power traditionally loses seats in the midterm elections. That’s doubly true when the economy is going south and inflation remains so hot that even the cost of Thanksgiving turkeys is soaring. Instead, the prevalence of Trumpist candidates and election deniers on the Republican side cost the party dearly in close races, as moderates opted for more centrist candidates. As David Urban put it, “Republicans have followed Donald Trump off the side of a cliff.”

With the midterm elections behind us and a new congressional term approaching, I urge both Congress and the White House: Learn the right lessons from this election.

People want their representatives in Washington to back off the bluster and get things done. It’s telling that all of the candidates from the Problem Solvers Caucus up for election on Tuesday won their races, and many others emphasized their willingness to reach across the aisle. The reality is that many are suffering. Their finances are, to put it delicately, in deep economic manure. They’re worried about rising rent, fuel costs, and grocery bills.

Both the administration and Congress need to take their situation seriously and do everything possible to reduce prices. That means removing tariffs on imported goods, addressing supply chain problems, encouraging automation that could speed up processing at our ports and depots, and removing the antitrust exemption for ocean shippers that is driving up costs for businesses.

Our elected officials should also avoid the distraction of anti-business crusades that make for splashy headlines but bad policy. The Biden administration has already signaled an interest in pushing antitrust legislation during the lame-duck session that runs through the end of the year. That would be a mistake. Voters don’t want the government to break tech products and platforms they love and rely on. They broadly recognize that supporting our world-class system of innovation means recognizing the contributions of companies both big and small. And perhaps most of all, they don’t want to see the government slam the brakes on America’s most successful and profitable companies if it means another hit to their 401(k)s.

Of course, our elected leaders may be unwittingly saved from their own excesses.

While the Georgia runoff won’t decide control of the Senate, Democrats will no doubt be focused on an election that could deliver them a 51-49 majority. With that election still hanging in the balance, Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich and others have predicted that Democrats, and some Republicans as well, may hold off on pushing anti-tech bills. Isn’t that a tell? Democratic leaders know that they’re trying to push an agenda that alienates voters, who don’t see tech regulation as a major concern.

Republicans, too, would be wise not to give in to their own shift to attack our most successful and profitable tech companies in the name of going after “Big Tech.” Voters didn’t cast their ballots for Republicans to give into their own party extremes. They voted for commonsense leadership that will create jobs and support a vulnerable economy.

We should take this time to look ahead. Voters have rejected the extremes from both parties and reinstated the United States as the “shining city on the hill,” as President Ronald Reagan put it. So let’s take a leaf from Reagan’s book and adopt policies that cement our country as a beacon of freedom, ingenuity, and prosperity. Congress, let’s get things done.


Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, North America’s largest technology trade association.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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