AED Washington Insights Newsletter|
Prepared by Christian A. Klein, AED Vice President of Government Affairs
and the AED Washington team
In this Issue:
Thanks for a Successful 2010!|
2010 was a banner year for AED's Washington program. Strong support from equipment distributors allowed the association to impact key House and Senate races and positioned the association to be even more effective in the next Congress.
In the political arena, AED PAC saw a dramatic surge in member participation, holding the most ImPACt events in its history. Thanks to the strong support of our members, AED was able to deliver financial resources to more than 50 candidates for federal office during the last election cycle. Through a carefully planned strategy targeting the races that would determine control on Capitol Hill, a stunning 87 percent of AED-backed candidates won.
The groundswell of political activism was also evident through the Start Us Up USA! campaign infrastructure pledge initiative. This joint effort with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers encouraged candidates for federal office to commit to robust investment in America's infrastructure. More than 70 candidates signed the pledge, including 12 new Republican House members and 13 winning incumbents, several of whom made infrastructure investment a campaign issue.
From health care reform to a protracted debate over deficits and taxes, controversial legislation dominated the 2010 congressional calendar. This yielded a hyper-partisan atmosphere and brought substantial gridlock. Yet, in spite of the challenging environment, AED scored several victories.
Chief among these was extending the 50 percent depreciation bonus for 2010 and increasing Sec. 179 expensing levels to $500,000 (with a phase-out threshold of $2 million) for 2010 and 2011. Several other accomplishments were placed under the tree right before Christmas: 100 percent depreciation bonus for 2011, temporary estate tax certainty, expanded Sec. 179 levels through 2012, and an extension of the 2001/2003 tax cuts (see related story).
Success on Capitol Hill is also based on what you prevented from happening. AED stood strong and joined with allies to prevent:
Our successes in 2010 would not have been possible without the active participation of AED members. If you participated in a Start Us Up USA! rally, got involved with the Washington Education Fund (WEF), participated in an ImPACt 2010 event, sent a letter to Congress, logged onto AEDaction.org, or took the time to come to Washington and advocate on the industry's behalf, we thank you.
- Legislation that would have infringed on an employee's rights to a secret ballot election and give unions an unfair organizing advantage (Employee Free Choice Act ("EFCA" or "card check")
- A union-favored provision slipped into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care law) that discriminated against the construction industry
- The most far-reaching expansion of the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since the agency's inception (The Robert C. Byrd Miner Safety & Health Act)
- A proposal to divert revenues collected from the transportation sector to non-transportation purposes in the Kerry-Lieberman climate change bill
- An attempt to silence the business community during political campaigns (the DISCLOSE Act)
- Efforts to repeal the "last in, first out" (LIFO) accounting method
The next year will be even busier than the last. Educating a new crop of lawmakers about our industry, advocating for sustained and substantial surface transportation and water infrastructure legislation, and bringing certainty to the tax code will top our "to-do" list for 2011. We look forward to building on our achievements of the past year and working with you for a successful 2011!
[ TOP ]
Tax Compromise Signed into Law|
On Dec. 17, President Obama signed into law legislation extending and expanding important tax provisions. The compromise proposal, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4853), brokered by the White House and congressional Republicans, cleared the House and Senate by wide bipartisan margins.
Among other things, the law:
Despite initial skepticism from critics on both the right and the left, the widely held consensus is that the deal represents the best offer either side could hope to achieve without handing a tax increase to all taxpayers for Christmas.
- Extends the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all taxpayers through 2012
- Sets the estate tax exemption level at $5 million per person ($10 million per couple) with a top tax rate of 35 percent
- Provides 100 percent depreciation bonus for equipment placed in service after Sept. 8, 2010 and through Dec. 31, 2011. For equipment placed in service after Dec. 31, 2011, and through Dec. 31, 2012, the bill provides for 50 percent depreciation bonus
- Extends increased Sec. 179 expensing levels through 2012
AED had been pushing for several of the initiatives in the legislation. Top priorities included working with lawmakers to prevent a tax increase for all earners, temporarily resolve estate tax uncertainty, and extend and expand capital investment incentives. In fact, in the run-up to the final vote, AED led an ad-hoc coalition of construction industry groups in encouraging Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to promptly enact the compromise tax package.
For more information about the extension of the depreciation bonus and other important capital investment incentives in the new tax law, visit: www.depreciationbonus.org
[ TOP ]
Lawmakers Finally Agree on Spending Solution|
Before leaving Washington for the Christmas holiday, Congress had to deal with one "must-pass" issue before the end of the year—funding the federal government.
Over the past few weeks, several funding proposals received serious consideration. On Dec. 8, the House approved a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government at 2010 funding levels until Sept. 30, 2011, the end of the fiscal year. More recently, a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending measure seemed to have bipartisan support in the Senate, but ultimately fell short.
With both the CR through the end of the fiscal year and the omnibus bill failing to gain support in the Senate, lawmakers finally coalesced around legislation that will extend discretionary funding for most federal programs, including the highway and water infrastructure programs, at 2010 spending levels through March 4, 2011.
On Dec. 21, the Senate and House approved the CR through March 4, 2011. President Obama promptly signed the measure into law to avoid a government shutdown.
For a summary of the recently enacted CR visit: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=51524096-2c8b-4580-96dc-3bde5294aec8
[ TOP ]
Keep the Momentum Going—Pledge to AED WEF Today|
AED PAC had its most successful year ever, holding a stunning 28 ImPACt 2010 meetings across the country and delivering financial support to more than 50 House and Senate candidates – 87 percent of whom would go on to win their races. The association also achieved substantial political victories for distributors, such as the reinstatement of the 50 percent depreciation bonus for 2010 and an increase in Sec. 179 expensing levels. All of which is due to the support and participation from equipment industry members across the country.
Having substantially raised our visibility as a key political player, AED is in a great position to influence what happens on Capitol Hill in 2011. But without adequate resources, our ability to capitalize on our gains will be limited.
It is critical that AED members keep our momentum going in the 112th Congress by supporting AED's Washington Education Fund (WEF). Among other things, your contribution to WEF allows us to:
Corporate contributions to AED WEF are welcome, and there is no limit on how much you can give. Any company with a stake in AED's success in Washington is encouraged to participate.
- Maintain our AEDaction.org grassroots website, making it easy for distributors and their employees to communicate with Congress about key issues
- Lead lobbying coalitions to reauthorize highway and water programs, permanently resolve the death tax issue, protect LIFO, prevent anti-employer bills like card check from moving forward, and fix the health care reform law
- Send AED Washington staff to equipment industry local group meetings around the country to build the industry's grassroots network and encourage distributor political activism.
Planning for our 2011 legislative program is already underway. Please go online (http://www.aednet.org/government/wef.cfm) to pledge your support and provide AED with the resources it needs to be successful on the Hill next year.
For more information, contact AED Vice President of Government Affairs Christian Klein at 703-739-9513, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ TOP ]
Mica to Lead House Transportation Committee|
On Dec. 8, House Republicans officially selected Rep. John Mica (R-FL) to lead the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee. The widely anticipated move gives Mica the T&I gavel for the 112th Congress, where he will oversee many areas important to distributors, including surface transportation and wastewater resources.
Mica, has served Central Florida's seventh congressional district, representing the area northeast of Orlando, on the T&I committee since his first election to Congress in 1992. A proponent of infrastructure investment, Mica has been the committee's senior Republican since 2006.
As the committee's future chair, Mica revealed freshmen Republicans who will be serving with him on the panel. Subcommittee assignments are expected in January. New Republicans who will be joining Mica include:
|Lou Barletta (PA)
||Larry Bucshon (IN)
||Chip Cravaack (MN)
||Rick Crawford (AR)|
|Jeff Denham (CA)
||Blake Farenthold (TX)
||Stephen Fincher (TN)
||Bob Gibbs (OH)|
|Frank Guinta (NH)
||Richard Hanna (NY)
||Andy Harris (MD)
||Jaime Herrera (WA)|
|Randy Hultgren (IL)
||Jeff Landry (LA)
||James Lankford (OK)
||Billy Long (MO)|
|Tom Reed (NY)
||Jim Renacci (OH)
||Tim Scott (SC)
||Daniel Webster (FL)|
To learn more about Mica, visit: http://mica.house.gov/.
[ TOP ]
Deficit Commission Plan Falls Flat|
The long-awaited deficit reduction plan from President Obama's bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform fell three votes shy of the 14 needed for approval. President Obama created the commission to explore ideas to reduce deficits and balance the federal budget by 2015.
The plan put forward by commission co-chairs Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, offered a mixed bag for equipment distributors. The commission called for gradually raising the gas tax rates beginning in 2013 to fund transportation improvements. To aid in reducing the deficit, the proposal also calls for limiting transportation spending to existing revenue collections and prohibiting bailouts of transportation trust funds with general revenues.
While such proposals were welcome news, the recommendation to repeal the LIFO method of accounting, used by nearly 40 percent of distributors, would cause headaches for the industry. AED estimates that repealing LIFO would cost AED members alone close to $1 billion in retroactive tax liability and take away an important tool to mitigate the impact of future inflation.
Despite the plan's inability to gain the panel's full support, its mix of discretionary spending cuts, mandatory savings, tax reform, and modifications to entitlement programs attracted a surprisingly broad base of bipartisan support. However, having failed to gain the votes necessary to advance the proposal to Congress, the panel's work finishes without achieving any real accomplishments.
As Washington continues to grapple with ways to reduce the deficit and return to fiscal austerity, lawmakers of both parties have indicated that the commission's $4 trillion worth of ideas to put America in the black will likely form the bedrock of debt reduction plans in the 112th Congress.
To view the commission's final report, visit: http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf
[ TOP ]
NLRB Moves to Implement Back-Door Card Check|
President Obama's union allies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rejected the complaints of employees regarding a "sweetheart contract" (a contract that involves collusion between an employer and a union to the detriment of workers) between the Dana Corporation and the United Auto Workers (UAW).
The decision (356 NLRB No. 49 (2010)), which reverses years of precedent, involved a letter of agreement (LOA) whereby Dana agreed to "recognize and bargain with the UAW upon proof of majority status to be determined by a card check." The LOA also set "forth ground rules for both parties that would be applicable in any organizing campaign." In its ruling, the board rejected an employee's right to participate in organizing efforts and a private vote.
The NLRB's ruling confirms fears that unions, seeing their influence fade on Capitol Hill, will increasingly turn to Obama's executive branch appointees to advance their agenda. This is even more troubling as the decision blatantly circumvents the will of Congress, which has repeatedly rejected attempts at implementing card check.
The decision is not to be confused with a separate NLRB case involving the Dana Corporation previously reported on by AED. That case (Case 16 RD-1597) involves the board's decision to revisit a 2007 decision (351 NLRB 434) upholding an employee's right to a 45-day window to petition for a secret ballot election if an organizing decision was reached by card check.
In November, AED joined our allies at the Coalition for Democratic Workplace in a friend of the court brief encouraging the NLRB not to abandon important protections against worker privacy in its 2007 Dana decision. Stay tuned for updates as AED continues to monitor the NLRB and its increasingly pro-union decisions.
[ TOP ]
DOT Unveils Buy America Website|
The Department of Transportation (DOT) revealed a new website that consolidates DOT Buy America provisions, requirements, and waiver processes. Buy America, which gained fame after its insertion in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), requires that iron, steel, and other manufactured goods incorporated into stimulus projects be made in the United States. During the stimulus debate, AED fought hard to ensure that the Buy America requirements would not be extended to equipment used by contractors on stimulus projects.
Designed to help companies better understand requirements and promote compliance, the new site centralizes information from multiple agencies by posting all waiver requests on one page. Companies can also subscribe to receive alerts when new information on Buy America mandates for DOT-funded projects is updated.
To view the new Buy America website visit: http://www.dot.gov/buyamerica/.
[ TOP ]