November 5, 2008
Colleagues, The votes have been counted (at least most of them), and the results have been forecast. It appears certain that Barack Obama will claim a clear mandate with a significantly enhanced majority in Congress. This will have a profound impact on America’s role in the world and the policy agenda the US government will pursue. Watching the results, here are a few quick thoughts on what this means on issues that may be relevant to our clients:
Overall, the US will have a very activist government, focused on fixing the economy, reforming the health care system and addressing energy policy. That said, given the $700 billion bailout of the financial system, there won’t be a lot of money to throw at these issues. With this in mind, watch for the following:
- The economic crisis will continue to dominate the policy agenda. We’ll likely see another round of stimulus designed to get consumers spending again. We also may see a backlash against the current economic package that is widely viewed as a bailout of Wall Street and big banks. This may mean reconstituting the financial regulatory scheme and/or a restructuring of how the Treasury Department is deploying the $700 billion.
- After the economy, or maybe as part of it, health care will be front and center. Health care consistently ranks as one of the top three concerns of most Americans and delivering on reforming the system will be a top priority of an Obama Administration and their allies in Congress.
- There will be activity, if not legislation on climate change. There is pent up demand to address climate change, but the economic situation makes it politically untenable to take on an issue that will almost certainly hit most Americans in the pocketbook. So while there will be Congressional hearings and potentially regulatory actions, it’s unlikely that we’ll see comprehensive climate change legislation in the first year of the Obama Administration.
- Energy, separated from climate change, will be another top priority of the new Democratic government. While pressure to do “something about gas prices” has subsided as prices at the pump have fallen, underlying concerns about dependence on foreign oil are very real. Watch for the new Administration to push an alternative energy investment package and to take on big oil companies over their profits and environmental records.
- America will likely be a full participant in multilateral diplomacy on issues ranging from Russia to climate change to the global economic crisis. This will change the international dynamic quickly and dramatically.
This election represents a sea change in the US government. The approach of the Obama Administration is likely to be different in virtually all respects from the Bush Administration. The new Obama Administration will almost certainly change the policy framework and the way government works. We will need to work with our clients to make sure they are well positioned to succeed in this new environment.
We will be distributing a detailed analysis of key issues in the coming days, but I thought this might be helpful as we all begin to digest this historic outcome.
Global Public Affairs Practice
Ogilvy PR Worldwide
+ 1 202 729-4114