Paul Wiseman, AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republicans' sweeping gains in Tuesday's elections hardly guarantee they can enact their own prescriptions for the ailing economy.
Despite their capture of the House and near-takeover of the Senate, Republicans will still lack the votes to ram through their agenda of new tax and spending cuts and looser regulation. Democrats, with their own economic ideas, will likely fight them to a draw.
Yet it may not matter. On its own, the economy is showing slow but steady improvement. Consumers and businesses are spending a bit more. Some companies are hiring.
And most economists expect those gains to continue.
For both Democrats and Republicans, the inability to do much for the next two years may not be such a bad policy for the economy.
If you ask economists, none of the ideas proposed in the campaign - by either party - would make a big dent in the nation's 9.6 percent unemployment rate or ramp up consumer spending.
"If there were a silver bullet to be shot at this economy, it would have been shot already," says Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.
World stock markets mostly rose overnight as the election results streamed in. Investors were cheered partly by expectations that the Federal Reserve will announce plans Wednesday to pump more cash into the economy by buying Treasury bonds.
The Republicans' victories do stand to affect Americans' personal finances. The highest-earning Americans, for example, are more likely to keep tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush.
Businesses might get some relief from government regulation. The long-term unemployed are likely to lose their jobless benefits sometime next year. Financially ailing state and local governments can probably abandon hope for more help from Washington.
A likely two-year standoff between the White House and fired-up congressional Republicans shouldn't get in the way of a gradually improving economy, analysts say.