The market will struggle to parse health care's passage

Right now it's earnings vs. Washington interference -- expect a bit of selling for now.

By Jim Cramer Mar 22, 2010 7:22AM
Jim Cramer

By Jim Cramer, TheStreet


Why isn't it down more? You will hear that all day. The answer is simple: The pain is in the back years. You will not see the real crimp in purchasing power and job formation until 2011, and then maybe we will be in better shape for it.


In fact, the real balance is between next quarter's earnings and what President Barack Obama has in store for us next. Will it be amnesty, so those who are illegal get a card that entitles them to universal health care? Will it be an energy bill that tacks on costs to companies that pollute and adds a new layer of bureaucracy? Will it be a push to restore the historic power of unions to their "rightful" place in history? Will it be financial legislation that punishes all large banks and Goldman Sachs (GS) in particular because Goldman makes too much money? Will it be rules about how the combinations that the government begged for, JPMorgan (JPM) / WaMu, JPMorgan / Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo (WFC) / Wachovia and Bank of America (BAC) / Merrill Lynch must be broken up and the institutions punished for helping the government?

I will tell you one thing it won't be: how to help businesses hire and how to keep the government out of the way of the process.


Given how amorphous Washington is and how severe earnings are, the market will have a hard time processing government interference, as hard a time as it did with health care. In the end there were enough market players who decided the government gave companies a lot of benefits that few looked at the broader part of the equation, the hit to the pocketbook, the confusion.


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But that means nothing to this bunch in Washington, who feels that anyone who owns stock is an entitled individual who probably voted Republican anyway.


Even the November gridlock possibility, which some were cheering and buying stocks last week for -- that is, the some who weren't buying them because they actually thought the bill would fail -- is too ethereal now to come face to face with.


So, even though I expect us to get hit, even go down for a couple of days, we won't process it fast enough to be able to think we should sell, sell, sell. Just sell some and wait for earnings.


Probably not even a bad strategy.


At the time of publication, Cramer was long Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.


Jim Cramer is co-founder and chairman of TheStreet. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO.


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