Election 2022: A Recipe For Gridlock

Keeping up with the news is an essential part of my job. But to be honest, the news can be pretty dispiriting at times. The negative tones that have become more common across information channels can leave one wondering if anything good is going on anywhere.

As an antidote, I will often unwind at the end of the day by watching online videos of puppies. They are cute, innocent, loving and lovable. The cost of viewing is usually a short advertisement, often for a pet-related product. But during the election season, puppy lovers were forced to endure political attack ads before getting to the Labradors. I saw a number of misleading and negative spots across several states during my travels, making it very difficult to achieve any sense of calm.

So I am glad that the election is mostly over with. There are still runoffs and recounts ahead, but the broad outcome of the 2022 midterms is in hand. Democrats have retained the Senate, while Republicans have gained a majority in the House. However, margins in both chambers are razor thin, and divisions within and between parties will make governing very difficult. Major new economic initiatives are very unlikely.

Some analysts have applauded split government, suggesting that gridlock might limit aggressive agendas. But gridlock also limits progress on some of the longer-term issues that are central to the enduring success of the American economy. Following is a take on what last week’s results mean, and what they don’t mean.

Going into the balloting, inflation was flagged as the most pressing issue facing the country. The Federal Reserve is taking the lead on that front, but Congress could help by tightening its belt. Pandemic-era programs created an excess of demand, which stressed prices when combined with supply restrictions in trade, labor and energy.