October 6, 2022
Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Former Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
As the 2022 Congressional midterm elections inch closer, many Americans are wondering how the results will impact both small and large businesses. With global events unfolding by the minute, the elections could determine the international agenda’s direction and major outcomes for the business community.
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s AmCham Pre-Election Briefing, Myron Brilliant, the Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, led a conversation with Neil Bradley of the Chamber to discuss and analyze the midterm elections for the United States Congress.
In Trade Politics, the U.S. Is Sitting on the Sidelines Instead of Asserting Leadership
A lack of intensity and motivation from voters has put the trade agreements on the back burner, according to Bradley. He explained that despite voters having opinions on the matter, the low turnout at the polls doesn’t swing elections or have a major impact, as voters generally have larger issues they’re focused on.
“There's no natural constituency amongst the voting populace to force them to take up the trade agenda,” Bradley said. “Without someone kind of leading the parade to try to get something done on the elected official side, there's just a lack of momentum. That's why … gearing up the business communities' efforts to light a fire under elected officials, both in the administration and Congress, is going to be so important because if we don't do it, it's not going to come from the voting populace, and it's not going to come from anywhere else.”
Despite this lack of pressure from voters, Bradley is more concerned with leadership.
“I'm actually not concerned about the politics of trade writ large,” Bradley said. “I am concerned about the lack of leadership and what we can do to try to create some momentum for new leadership on trade.”
Numerous Issues Driving the Midterm Elections
When it comes to determining what issues voters are concerned about, a lot of it will come down to what party they vote for. According to Bradley, Democrats and Republicans (or independents who vote one way or another) are split regarding the issues each party wants to be addressed.
“If you're talking to a Republican voter today …, what you're going to hear is inflation in the economy, border security, crime,... — and moving quickly into the issue set — education, what kids are taught in schools, and schools being open,” Bradley said. “If you go talk to a Democratic voter or a leaning Democrat independent, you will hear some talk of inflation in the economy,... climate change, environmental issues,... abortion and reproductive issues, [and] healthcare issues as part of inflation and costs in the economy.”
He noted that because there is not a lot of overlap between each party’s concerns, Republican and Democratic candidates end up talking about separate sets of issues.
The Strong Dollar Could Have a Potential Impact on the Health of the Economy
As the country — and the world — deal with near 40-year inflation highs across the board, the question is posed as to whether Congress understands how this could impact our economy’s health.
“The work that the Federal Reserve has to do in terms of raising interest rates to reduce demand to quell inflation is significantly more than, say, the central bank in Europe or central banks in Asia, where the underlying economy isn't quite as strong, and more minor increases in interest rates are likely to reduce demand significant to begin gaining control on inflation,” Bradley commented.
While Bradley addressed that concerns regarding the high dollar have been heard, he believes “the predominant need to quell inflation in the United States, and to get it under control, and to avoid it becoming embedded across the economy, I think is going to kind of trump any concerns in the near-term about dollar exchange rates.”
“We’re going to have to weather several months — a year or so — of a really strong dollar relative to other currencies until we get inflation under control and can rebalance,” Bradley said.