Magazine article Policy & Practice

Still Uncertain about the Future

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Still Uncertain about the Future

Article excerpt

I noticed a very telling trend this year. For each of our APHSA conferences we had very low early registration, but at the same time a much larger number of people made reservations at the hotels where we were holding the conferences. Then, on the final days before each conference we got a rush of conference registrations, along with many more people who simply showed up on the first day and registered then. When we looked into it, we found that early on we'd have a number of members who were not sure whether or not they could go to a conference, but were making hotel reservations in an effort to leave their options open. Finally, when things came down to the last minute, our members would get approval to go or be able to ensure their schedules would accommodate the time away at a conference.

This seemed to be the theme for 2012--it was a year of waiting and uncertainty. Even though we were warned that not much was going to happen in this election year, it was still amazing how many issues went unresolved and how much work was left undone.

We waited while federal spending bills never made it out of appropriations committees and the focus of our congressional representatives was not on governing but on posturing for the next election--that was to be expected. We waited for the results of what seemed to be an endless election campaign that at any time left most people very unsure as to which party would hold the White House or control Congress.

While business waited, the recovery stayed slow and money sat on the sidelines. The word from Wall Street was that businesses have reserves of cash built up, but they were not willing to invest or hire because of the uncertainty of the market and of future policy. They'd also wait until after the election to act.

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But there was always a sense that once the election was over we would have some resolution and perhaps gain back some control from an environment where no decisions were being made. The election held promise that its results would proclaim the mandate of the people and, for better or worse, we could finally get away from the gridlock and inaction of the last few years.

Now the election is over and it is hard to see that we have such resolution. There has been no change in the presidency, nor have the Senate or House majorities changed hands. Once again the voters were split nearly 50/50 in their allegiance and power is distributed in a way that things will not move ahead without some degree of cooperation. …

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