For better or for worse, what happens in our nation’s capital has a significant impact on your company’s bottom line and profitability. Think about how 100 percent bonus depreciation has benefited you and your customers. How would a long-term infrastructure plan impact your sales? Is trade uncertainty increasing your cost of doing business? Policy in Washington has a substantial effect on the industry, and we need your involvement to ensure policy successes.
AED is the premier trade association advancing the policy interests of the construction equipment industry in Washington, D.C. AED has a full-time, on-the-ground presence on Capitol Hill, and our lobbying team does great work in keeping the industry ahead of upcoming legislation and ensuring that the industry’s interests and economic well-being are considered when legislation is drafted.
That said, D.C. is full of lobbyists pushing well-written, data-based policy proposals, and all these lobbyists claim their proposed legislation is “good for the economy,” “of vital importance to the nation,” or “a win for your district, [or representative].” As a result, members of Congress have an inherent skepticism regarding the validity of a lobbyist’s claim that their issue is very salient for that representative’s constituents. There is a disconnect between the policy being discussed and what that policy means for their constituents. In other words, a message delivered from a lobbyist has significantly less weight than the same exact message delivered by voters and business owners from their district.
That’s why dealer engagement is vital for the success of AED’s government affairs efforts. We need Congress to hear your voice – no one can convey our industry’s concerns better than you. How are you and your customers affected by the uncertainty surrounding the federal infrastructure program? Have you and your employees benefited from lower tax rates and 100 percent full expensing of new and used equipment? Is the lack of technicians hindering your ability to service customers and forcing you to forgo business opportunities? As the recent tax reform debate demonstrated, AED member engagement is key to policy successes.
At the top of AED’s 2019 government affairs agenda is infrastructure investment. The United States’ infrastructure is in desperate need of a major upgrade. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure scores a D+. Whether it’s structurally deficient bridges, dams and levees or inadequate roads, airports and pipes, America’s infrastructure is insufficient, and our leaders in Washington can no longer shun obligations when it comes to required upgrades.
While the last highway bill (the FAST Act) provided near-term certainty to the federal highway program, our nation still faces a $740 billion backlog in much-needed road, highway and bridge improvements. The Highway Trust Fund, which funds the annual maintenance of U.S. highways and roads, will go broke in 2020 without congressional action. The Highway Trust Fund is funded by the gas tax, which has not been raised since 1993. Given the advent of electric and hybrid cars, which use significantly less (or no) gas, the Highway Trust Fund will go belly-up in 18 months. Congress must work to identify new revenue sources to restore the program’s long-term fiscal stability and increase investment.
The good news is that Congress recognizes that infrastructure is immensely important. On April 30, 2019, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they had agreed to work with President Trump to craft and pass a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. Even in the current hyper-partisan and sharply divisive political environment, both sides were able to come together and agree that infrastructure investment is a vital issue for which they must work together to find a solution.
The bad news is that there is a big difference between a general agreement to work with one another and a bill that appropriates $2 trillion for infrastructure being signed into law. It will take hard work to get an infrastructure bill over the finish line, and there will be significant fights over what type of infrastructure that $2 trillion is going to fund. How will funding be divided between roads, waterways, the power grid, and mass transit such as rail? What revenue sources will fund the infrastructure bill? Which industries will be the winners from this bill, and which will be the losers? All of that is up for grabs.
AED has the policy expertise and the relationships in D.C. needed to safeguard our priorities in an infrastructure bill, but we need your voice and your participation in the process in order to ensure that our efforts are successful! There are three separate AED government affairs initiatives that need your support and engagement: 1) Attend the 2019 AED Washington Fly-In, 2) Host a visit from a member of Congress at your dealership, and 3) Contribute to the AED PAC.
Host a Congressional Visit to Your Dealership
During congressional recess (when Congress is not in session holding votes in D.C.), they head home to their districts to meet with constituents, political groups and business owners. AED will work with your dealership to set up a visit from your member of Congress. These meetings are straightforward. The member of Congress comes in to meet with dealer executives and discuss the issues impacting their dealership. This meeting is usually followed by a brief tour of the dealership and a few pictures with the representative. All in all, these meetings typically only take an hour, and they provide another great opportunity for you to tell your story to your congressional representative.
AED handles the scheduling and works with you and your representative to find a date that works. AED will also attend these meetings so that you have an individual with policy expertise in your corner. All you need to do is talk to your member of Congress about your business and tell your story.
Donate to AED PAC
Associated Equipment Distributors’ Political Action Committee (AED PAC) is the only entity dedicated to electing congressional allies to advance the equipment distribution industry’s policy priorities. AED PAC does this by providing financial support to congressional candidates that share our values and policy priorities. Implementing these policy priorities – such as increasing federal investment in infrastructure, fostering CTE programs to educate more service technicians, and reducing the federal tax and regulatory burdens placed on equipment dealers – hinges on AED-supported candidates winning their elections. That is why your financial support of AED PAC is vital.
Federal PACs, unlike those at the state and local level, are subject to strict regulations in terms of who can donate and how contributions can be solicited. Federal law prohibits the use of association membership dues to support political candidates. Therefore, AED’s PAC is funded through voluntary contributions from individuals who are U.S. citizens and are executive or administrative personnel of a company that belongs to AED. The association’s senior staff may contribute also. The annual contribution limit to a PAC is $5,000 per person.
Equipment distribution is multibillion-dollar-a-year industry. AED PAC, however, only raises a few hundred thousand dollars per election cycle. AED PAC puts these funds to good use, but the sad reality of our political system is that political contributions provide access to the smoke-filled back rooms where public policy is often produced. We need your help to ensure that AED PAC has political influence commensurate with the economic size and importance of our industry.
I hope you will lend your support and your voice to these AED government affairs initiatives. Your engagement in these efforts will amplify AED’s influence and success as we strive to ensure that the policy produced in Washington is good for the industry and good for your dealership’s bottom line.
For more information on the AED PAC, hosting a congressional visit, contact your regional manager, call 630-574-0650, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit aednet.org