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Backing GOP, business leaders stop short of repeal of Dems’ agenda

Though in favor of Republicans taking control of Congress, business leaders are not looking for GOP lawmakers to turn back the clock on the Obama administration’s agenda.

A new poll by FTI Consulting shows that a small majority of the business community — 53 percent — would want new Republican majorities in Congress to find compromise with the White House rather than repeal the Democrats’ major initiatives, such as the healthcare and financial services reform bills.

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“While a Republican victory in Congress is sought, the business community is not endorsing a blockade or repeal of all White House initiatives in the new Congress,” said John Klick, a senior managing director at FTI. “Indeed, the poll findings are telling us that businesses want a Republican Congress more as a means to an end to see bipartisan action from Washington that is supportive of the daily decisions businesses make regarding their planning and operations.”

That would put business on the opposite side of Tea Party activists. Repealing those pieces of legislation, especially the healthcare package, have served as a rallying cry for Republican candidates who have wanted to earn Tea Party backing during these midterm elections.

More than three-fourths of the business leaders polled by FTI — about 78 percent — want to see Republicans to take control of at least one chamber of Congress.

And while not pushing for repeal of either the healthcare or financial services bill, they say the legislation is having a negative affect on their business interests. Sixty-nine percent say healthcare reform is hurting their business while 65 percent say financial services reform is doing the same.

“Right now, businesses are choosing the status quo over calls for change. They believe the most favorable environment for them would be to slow down change, and they see that as more likely with divided government,” said Edward Reilly, CEO Americas of FD, the communications arm of FTI.

That is backed up by other findings of the poll. For example, 63 percent say their business interests would improve if Republicans were able to gain control of at least the House, leading to a “divided government” scenario.

That seems the most likely scenario, according to political analysts.

Many said the GOP nomination of Christine O’Donnell as their Senate candidate in Delaware hurt the odds of Republicans taking the upper chamber. Further, the GOP is not expected to gain veto-proof majorities in either house, which could mean Republican lawmakers will work with President Obama instead of just opposing him outright in the next Congress.

The poll’s results are drawn from an online survey of 400 American investors, financial advisors and small-business owners. The poll was conducted from October 11 to 14.