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November 12, 2004
7 Areas to Watch in the Next 4 Years

After President Bush won re-election on Tuesday, November 2, and Republicans gained more seats in the House of Representatives and Senate, Bush may have an easier path for passing his legislative priorities, including those that would affect employers.

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In the Senate, however, Democrats still have enough votes to filibuster legislation they oppose.

Look for Bush to push a significant portion of his agenda in the first two years of his term because mid-term elections could swing both chambers of Congress in the direction of Democrats.

The following is a list of work-related items on Bush's agenda.

Social Security

President Bush wants to allow younger workers to divert some of the money they pay in payroll taxes to private investment accounts.

Income Taxes

President Bush says he is looking to revise the tax code. While Bush has revealed no details about changes he would like to see, Bush says current tax law is too complicated.

In addition, President Bush wants Congress to make permanent the tax cuts passed during his first term.

Balancing Work and Family

President Bush wants to allow employers to offer compensatory time instead of overtime pay. Bush contends this would allow workers to spend more time with their families. Under current rules, only public sector employers are allowed to offer compensatory time.

Healthcare Insurance

Bush's healthcare plan focuses on promoting Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which let individuals accumulate tax-exempt money to pay for medical expenses. Bush also wants to allow small businesses to band together to negotiate lower health-insurance premiums through Association Health Plans.

In addition, President Bush says he will urge Congress to pass a cap on medical liability awards. Bush contends lawsuits have a significant effect on the costs of insurance.


Bush is pushing a plan that would give legal status for a three-year period to undocumented workers if they already have a U.S. job. The workers would be allowed to apply for permanent residency but would receive no preference over other applicants.

Overtime and Minimum Wage

With fewer seats in Congress, Democrats may find it more difficult to pass legislation that would raise the minimum wage or would block the Bush administration's changes to the overtime exemptions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. President Bush has threatened to veto any legislation that would block the overtime changes.


It is quite unlikely Bush will shift from his first-term's position on regulatory action. In areas like workplace safety, Bush prefers voluntary efforts rather than mandates.


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