Back to the Batting CageWritten By: CHRISTIAN KLEIN
Article Date: 01-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
It'll be a busy year ahead for AED in Washington.
The past year in Washington has been like a batting cage where balls are coming at you from 360 degrees. We're betting that 2008 is going to be even busier for AED on Capitol Hill. Here are some of our government affairs priorities for the coming year:
Other top agenda items include resolving the uncertainty surrounding the death tax, reforming the Regulatory Flexibility Act, equalizing the tax treatment of construction and farm equipment, finding ways to reduce health and product liability insurance costs for distributors, and generally increasing political activism in the equipment industry.
- Help elect pro-growth candidates to Congress. This election year is shaping up to be a doozy. The conventional wisdom is that Democrats will expand their House and Senate
majorities, and that a Democrat has a better-than-even shot at winning the White House. In the first year of the 110th Congress, AED built ties to a number of pro-growth Democrats on the Hill (yes, they do exist!) House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) has emerged as an important voice for regulatory reform, small business health insurance availability, and other issues important to business groups. Members of the centrist House Blue Dog Democrat Coalition have also shown they can moderate the extreme tendencies of some of their more liberal Democratic colleagues. AED's goal for 2008 is to defend our long-standing GOP allies and build a bipartisan congressional majority that shares our commitment to infrastructure investment, pro-growth tax reforms, balanced environmental policy, and limited government.
- A stronger highway program. With projections of a $1 trillion highway investment gap over the next decade and a $40+ billion deficit in the Highway Trust Fund by 2015, the federal highway program is facing a crisis unlike any before. In 2007, AED initiated the Highway Infrastructure Taskforce (HIT) to allow leading equipment distributors with a big stake in the upcoming highway reauthorization to play a prominent role in the process. AED is also helping to lead the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) coalition. We're ringing alarm bells on the Hill to get Congress focused on the road program well before the current highway law expires in 2009.
- Repeal the government contractor withholding tax. A new law imposes a 3 percent withholding tax on government contractors starting in 2011. This will effectively force companies doing business with state and local governments to make interest free loans to the federal treasury. Given narrow profit margins in the construction industry, the new law will hurt both AED members and our contractor customers. It will also drive up government contract administration costs. Thanks in part to AED's lobbying, a majority of the House has signed onto a bill to repeal the new tax. Our efforts will continue and intensify in the year ahead.
- Reauthorize sewer construction programs. The override of President Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) was an important milestone. That law authorizes more than $20 billion for dam, navigation, and other water projects around the country. A bill to reauthorize and substantially increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), which finances sewer construction, passed the House this past spring but has languished in the Senate. SRF reauthorization is in reach and we'll keep pushing in 2008.
- Prevent LIFO repeal. More than 40 percent of AED members use the LIFO accounting method to value parts inventories. By our estimates, repealing LIFO, which has been in use for almost 75 years, would cost equipment distributors alone $850 million in retroactive tax liability. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has proposed eliminating LIFO to help pay for his "Mother of All Tax Bills." Rangel's bill would replace the alternative minimum tax (AMT) with a surcharge on high earners and make various changes to the ways businesses are taxed. AED will continue to play a leading role in the ongoing effort to protect LIFO. Check
out AED's SaveLIFO.org Web site.
There's an old saying that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. As the second session of the 110th Congress gets underway, we're sure new challenges and opportunities will emerge on various fronts. By tackling them together, AED and its members will continue our industry's record of success in the public policy arena.
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