The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) President & CEO Brian McGuire last week sent a letter to leaders of the 115th Congress requesting they “put partisan differences aside” to “enact growth-inducing, job-creating policies to ensure the country’s economic vitality for years to come.”
In this letter, which was sent to coincide with the beginning of the new congressional session, McGuire outlined eight broad proposals the association believes will help improve the construction equipment business as well as secure the national economy.
These proposals include:
Restore simplicity and certainty to the tax code.
“With compliance costs constantly increasing, lawmakers must restore certainty and simplicity to the tax code. Resources utilized to retain tax attorneys and accountants could be used to hire more workers and invest in AED member companies. Additionally, Congress should proceed on tax reform that simultaneously benefits corporations and pass-through entities to ensure all businesses benefit from improvements to the Internal Revenue Code. Encouraging capital investment should also be an overriding reform objective. With that in mind, Congress must reject proposals to extend cost recovery periods and protect pro-investment tax policies such as Sec. 1031 like-kind exchanges, the deductibility of business interest, and last in, first out (LIFO) accounting. For the capital-intensive, family business- dominated equipment industry, the estate tax is particularly problematic and Congress should repeal it once and for all.”
Invest in transportation infrastructure.
“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 and bridge improvements. Consequently, Congress must work to identify new Highway Trust Fund revenue sources to restore the program’s long-term fiscal stability and increase investment. Additionally, increasing investment in our nation’s airports as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization process should be a top priority.”
Ensure adequate investment for water infrastructure projects.
Government and industry studies have estimated the nation’s water infrastructure needs over the next two decades in the hundreds of billions of dollars. AED encourages Congress to restore funding recently cut from the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. Lawmakers should also adopt alternative financing mechanisms, such as bipartisan legislation lifting the state volume cap on private activity bonds for water infrastructure projects to leverage private capital.
Invest in the next generation of skilled, technical workers.
“A recent AED Foundation study found that shortage of equipment technicians is costing dealers $2.4 billion per year in lost economic opportunity. Congress must channel resources to training a new generation of technical workers. Federal laws should be updated, such as reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, to reflect current workforce needs and to allow greater flexibility for state and local entities, non-governmental organizations, community colleges and technical schools, and industry to work together to address the skilled worker deficiency. Finally, Congress must ensure federal training and educational programs receive adequate funding to maintain a skilled and dynamic technical workforce. “
“While equipment distributors overwhelmingly support the Affordable Care Act’s repeal, the industry recognizes that completely scrapping the law is unlikely. Consequently, Congress must enact reforms that lower the health care costs for employers and employees, and clarifying that equipment rental income earned by taxpayers actively participating in an equipment distribution trade or business is exempt from the 3.8 percent passive income tax.”
Expand energy production.
“The United States must continue to develop its energy resources and become an even more significant global energy producer. Congress should ensure that shale energy development is allowed to continue across the country and must recognize that its benefits are best measured and understood at the state level. Congress and the administration should work together to renew the vitality of other energy sectors – including coal – that have been undermined by federal policy in recent years. Finally, speeding the construction of new infrastructure to transport and process energy must also be a priority.”
Protect equipment distributors from harmful and unnecessary regulations.
“In recent years, the business community has faced a deluge of new regulatory mandates from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor (DOL), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other federal agencies. Congress and the new administration should carefully review recent regulatory actions, including EPA’s ‘Water of United States’ and greenhouse gas emissions rulemakings, OSHA’s crystalline silica exposure mandate, DOL’s overtime rules, and NLRB ‘s proposal to completely alter the current employment framework by redefining “joint employer” to unnecessarily ensnare businesses in the labor disputes of its outside contractors and suppliers.”
Ensure American companies’ international competitiveness.
“The United States operates in a global economy. While protectionist rhetoric makes good campaign soundbites, the reality is American companies rely heavily on free trade agreements and other accords that permit accessible and efficient international trade. Congress must continue to promote free trade by lifting the embargo of Cuba, ensuring the long-term viability of the Export-Import Bank, and building closer relationships with Canada, our closest ally and trading partner.”