On the market side of the equation are issues like the federal highway program (which generates more than $2.4 billion in dealer revenues each year), as well as sewer, drinking water, airport, dam, and other types of federal construction programs. To reduce our members’ costs of doing business, we advocate a host of industry-specific tax issues, more transparent and effective federal regulation, and workforce development policies to improve the availability of technicians. Some issues – like bonus depreciation, which helps dealers build rental fleets and encourages customer purchasing – have both a market and cost of doing business impact.
Dealers are why we do what we do, but they’re also critical to how we do it. Dealer engagement is vital to our success on Capitol Hill. It’s long been said that there’s no stronger advocate for the equipment industry than a well-informed owner or employee who can explain to lawmakers how policy decisions affect their company.
But dealers are most than just messengers. By hosting lawmakers at their facilities, dealers provide a firsthand look at the wide range of policy issues that affect the industry. By supporting AED’s political program, dealers help the association elect members of Congress who share our policy goals. By responding to AED surveys, dealers help us prioritize and give us data to strengthen our advocacy. By coming to the nation’s capital for our annual Washington Fly-In (this coming year on April 4, 5, and 6), dealers make the industry’s presence felt in the halls of power.
While we’re fortunate to have a growing base of dealer activists around the country to drive our advocacy program forward, our manufacturer and industry service provider members are also critical players in our advocacy program.
Our lobbying team has long worked closely with representatives from AED manufacturer member companies that have government affairs offices. Washington, D.C., may be a small town, but when it comes to 535 House and Senate offices, countless committees, caucuses, party officials, and the entire executive branch, there’s a lot of ground to cover.
By communicating regularly with our manufacturer counterparts, we can share political intelligence and alert each other to emerging issues. Manufacturers have also traditionally been helpful getting the word out to their dealer networks about hot issues and encouraging participation in AED activities (e.g., Fly-In or surveys). Several AED manufacturer members also have their own political action committees, and when possible, we look for opportunities to coordinate our political strategies to target maximum support to friendly House and Senate candidates.
Companies that provide services to dealers – particularly our preferred providers – are also increasingly important partners for our advocacy. For example, Sentry Insurance recently established a permanent presence in the nation’s capital, and the company’s lobbyist is helping to advance policies that benefit equipment dealers and other industries Sentry serves. Sentry’s PAC and AED’s PAC also collaborated on several high-profile political events in the past election cycle.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC US) and Accruit, AED’s preferred providers of like-kind exchange services, are another example. AED, PwC and Accruit have been working together for several years to encourage the U.S. Treasury Department to issue safe harbor guidance related to equipment depreciation and LKE. AED and PwC also partner closely through a lobbying coalition to protect LKE; PwC provides considerable subject matter expertise and AED brings political muscle and boots on the ground.
Several other service provider members support AED’s government affairs program through our Advocacy Action Group (AAG), a cadre of industry leaders who have volunteered to be AED’s grassroots vanguard and encourage others to participate.
The new Congress and new administration mean enormous opportunity for the equipment industry. We have the opportunity to grow and stabilize infrastructure programs, improve the tax code, bring sanity to federal regulation, and improve career technical education. Progress in these areas will benefit dealers, manufacturers, and service providers alike. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with our existing partners and welcome the opportunity to work with others to build a stronger equipment industry and more robust U.S. economy.