ELKHART — The verdict is in — President Barack Obama has four more years in office.
Some in Elkhart are thrilled, some aren’t. Most agree, though, that leaders in Washington, D.C. need to scale back the partisan bickering, need to make a better effort at working together to get things done.
Following are a range of views in and around Elkhart on last Tuesday’s election.
‘A SCARY TIME’
Ashley Krieg, manager of Mini Delights Cupcake Shop, worries about the implications of Obama’s re-election to economic recovery.
“I think it’s kind of a scary time for some businesses right now,” she said, alluding to continued economic jitters. Cupcakes, she continued, aren’t exactly necessities when times are tough, though her three-year-old businesses has managed.
She had preferred Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney because of his business background, thinking he had the better credentials to bring about sustained economic recovery. Now with Obama re-elected, spurring the economy becomes his job. “We’ll continue to keep doing what we’ve been doing and hope for the best,” she said.
Either way, she hopes lawmakers can find a way to scale back partisan bickering. Likewise, she’s simply glad the spectacle of the electoral process has finally come to an end.
“I was just tired of hearing about it.” Krieg said. “Now it’s time to focus and move on with it.”
William Lee Sr. can appreciate some of things Romney and Obama had to offer.
Still, without specifying his vote, he said he’s “mostly pleased” with the results from Tuesday and thinks the country’s economy is on the way up. The economic situation Obama inherited couldn’t be remedied in just four years.
“I think we’re definitely on the road to recovery, and with a little bit of bipartisanship, it’s definitely possible,” said Lee, operator of Bill’s Bar-B-Cue.
DEALING WITH HEALTH CARE COSTS
Either way, with Romney or Obama, fundamental change is needed in the health care sector — to rein in health care costs, said Greg Losasso, president of Elkhart General Hospital. “My opinion has been all along that health care in America was going to have to change,” he said.
As such, he, like many in the sector, has been operating under the assumption that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s controversial overhaul of the health care sector, is here for the long haul. Romney had favored repeal, but he lost. And even if he won, the U.S. Senate remains in Democratic hands, which would have made repeal an uphill battle, Losasso notes.
That’s not to say Losasso favors all aspects of Obama’s health care overhaul, known as Obamacare. But like it or not, it’s law, though he foresees change in the years to come and says some elements of the law aren’t totally crystal clear.
More to the point, he hopes federal lawmakers can overcome partisan gridlock to more effectively deal with the issue, as well as the looming fiscal cliff on Jan. 1. That’s when a series of steep spending cuts and tax hikes are to take effect, unless lawmakers, who are working on the issue, come up with some sort of alternative plan.
Among other things, the Jan. 1 cuts would scale back reimbursement for physicians who treat Medicaid and Medicare patients.
HOPE FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM
With Obama’s re-election, Rosy Meza, an immigration attorney, is hopeful there will be more immigration policy changes in the next four years, maybe even comprehensive reform.
Earlier this year, the president introduced deferred action, enabling some undocumented immigrants who meet certain age and status requirements to get two-year work permits and permission to stay legally. That’s not the only legislation that’s been implemented in support of immigrants, she continued, and the time is right for additional action.
“Things have improved vastly in the economy,” Meza noted. “If the economy had gone sour, then people would be scrambling for jobs and they would not have the luxury of thinking deeper.”
She worries partisan gridlock could hamper effort, but holds out hope for additional immigration reform.
“From here going forward I think it’s going to be good,” she said. “I think there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic and to say goodbye to this year with gratitude and welcome 2013 with true hope in our hearts.”
SLIDE TOWARD SOCIALISM
Obama’s victory over Republican Mitt Romney was disappointing enough for Bob Moore, a Romney backer. Top that with the passage of several ballot measures around the country on things like same-sex marriage and physician-assisted suicide and it has him worried about a “great cultural change” — for the worse.
“We’re going to need a revival to get out of this mess,” said Moore, who heads the Elkhart County Patriots, a group affiliated with the conservative tea party movement. “It’s going to get far, far worse.”
With Obama’s re-election, he sees the nation slipping toward socialism — increased reliance on public assistance, redistribution of wealth and, as a result, a disincentive to entrepreneurship. “It’s soft socialism, but it can become hard socialism depending on how hard you push,” he said.
Like many, he worries about the federal deficit and hints that maybe political gridlock isn’t such a bad thing if the aim of not compromising is to cut government spending. Spending needs to go down, regulations on private enterprise need to be eased, he said.
Tuesday’s election results initially prompted disbelief then suspicion. Moore’s sentiments have since changed to disappointment that the public would vote in such a manner. “Obama is a symptom of a malady that runs much deeper,” he said.
‘THE RIGHT TRACK’
Obama’s re-election is the manifestation of the sentiment that the economy he inherited couldn’t be fixed in four years, Zanzer Anderson said. The Elkhart woman is active in the Indiana Democratic Party and attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., as a delegate.
“I would say the people spoke — you couldn’t fix this mess in four years,” she said. With Obama, the country is on “the right track.”
She had no doubt Obama would win last Tuesday, calling the Democratic Party the more inclusive of the two main parties, but now worries about gridlock. “We’ve got to start working together and stop demonizing each other,” she said.
WORRIED FOR BUSINESS OPERATORS
Romney understands business and the difficulties they face, but Obama doesn’t, not like the Republican anyway, said Carol McDowell. She’s a Romney backer — attended the GOP National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August as a delegate — and runs an electroplating business, McDowell Enterprises.
Income taxes on inventory, in addition to a company’s revenue, can crush a business and Romney would have been more sympathetic to calls in the sector for change. Thus, with Obama’s re-election, she’s worried.
“Some of the people have been with me for 25 years,” McDowell said. “I don’t want to go in there and say you have to find a new job ... I worry about the future of small business in America, I really do.”
She wants an end to gridlock in Washington, D.C., but is skeptical it’s in the offing.
‘FOUR TOUGH YEARS’
Jeff Olson, a truck mechanic, is a split-ticket voter. He voted for Democrat Joe Donnelly, who won his U.S. Senate race, but when it came to the presidential contest, he cast his lot with Romney.
The economy was sluggish under Obama and it hasn’t improved, at least not to the level he promised.
“I think we’re going to have four more years of what we’ve got,” Olson said. “I think it’ll be four tough years.”
Reporter Sharon Hernandez contributed to this story.