The U.S. is facing conflicting financial and power trends this year, but overall the economic future looks good, according to Larry Chadwick, senior managing director and head of the government relations team at TIAA.

“Factors are trending positive for 2021,” Chadwick said during a webinar on current federal legislative trends sponsored by TIAA, which provides financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and governmental fields. “Equity markets will continue to grow,” he added during the discussion of “The Political and Policy Landscape: A Look Ahead.”

The biggest issue that will come up in the near future will be the massive infrastructure bill being proposed by President Biden, which could reach $2 trillion dollars and influence taxes and investments for years to come, Chadwick said.

Although the future seems generally positive, there are several factors that will create challenges for Congress, the president and individuals, he noted.

“China is the biggest issue,” Chadwick said. The country is challenging the U.S. for global political and economic leadership.

Another huge issue is the fact that there is “a lack of trust in our society. We no longer see a common set of facts,” Chadwick said. This inability to find common ground, which permeates government, law enforcement and the media, will hold back policy initiatives.

“Culture wars are alive and well and divide the country right now,” he added. “The divisions in society could make the country ungovernable [if] the center does not hold. Every 60 years or so the country goes through an upheaval; we are in the midst of one now.”

The political parties themselves are involved in civil wars within themselves with the more traditional members of both Democrats and Republicans warring with the extremes on each side, which is another situation that could hold progress back.

On the positive side for those special interest lobbying organizations, such as TIAA, that deal with the administration and members of Congress on issues of importance to them, “There is a complete lack of the chaos [that existed under the last administration] and a return to normalcy,” Chadwick said.

Chris Spence, managing director of TIAA government relations, said during the webinar that the Democratic hold on the majority in Congress may be short lived, which is why new presidential administrations usually make the most progress on their agendas during the first two years of their terms.

Changes in retirement laws may be one of the things that President Biden will try to accomplish and that TIAA will watch closely, Spence added.

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