From the October 2010 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Implications of a Republican-Controlled Congress

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The consensus is pretty clear: The mid-term elections could result in Republicans taking control of the House and gaining more seats in the Senate.

On the House side, says Marc Caden, senior vice president of government affairs for the Association of Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) in Washington, "there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 competitive races where Republicans are winning, or are close, where Democrats currently hold seats." Today, "there are about 35 House seats that have Democratic incumbents trailing Republican challengers. So, [Republicans] are in an excellent position to take the House back."

David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association (IAA) in Washington, agrees that "It is certainly possible that Republicans could take control of the House, the Senate, or both." The 2010 mid-term elections, he says, "could result in dramatic changes on Capitol Hill."

But Tittsworth says he remains skeptical that Republicans will be able to achieve a filibuster-proof majority of 60 or more in the Senate. "As a practical matter, that means that Republicans will have to work with Democrats to score any significant legislative victories of their own."

Republicans are said to be particularly interested in grabbing the reins from House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., and in overturning portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But Tittsworth says "It's much more likely that Republicans could find traction on issues like rolling back health care rather than making wholesale changes to Dodd-Frank." The Republican strategy if they gain the majority, Caden adds, would be "looking at what [areas] they can defund in a way that slows the growth of government." Some of the "defunding" will be in health care, "but some will be in the new regulatory agencies," like the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).

Hitting even closer home for advisors would be any potential impact a Republican-controlled Congress could have on the studies the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is charged with conducting under Dodd-Frank. Dan Barry, managing director of government relations and public policy for the Financial Planning Association (FPA), says that while he doesn't believe Republican gains or control would affect the studies to be conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) or the SEC, "any recommendations for legislation that come out of the studies could be effected if there is a Congress that is more skeptical of broader regulation."

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