Dear Industry Colleagues,


How many times have you gathered around the counter and complained about our leadership in Washington?

I know I have – too often it seems. Keep in mind, it could be worse. Just a few years ago, some would argue it was worse. Today, we have divided government, a level of Washington gridlock unseen in generations. This imperfect balance of power prevents one side from ramming through a partisan agenda. 

However, as business owners the damage may already have been done. The past three years we’ve watched (and ASA has fought) as deadlines inch closer and closer toward implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Like it or not (and many of us may not like it), the
Affordable Care Act is coming and we should all be preparing for it.

The employer mandate, an issue our Washington office has been fighting since Day 1, has been delayed, but much remains of the law that we must deal with. For example, the health insurance tax will assess new premium fees to the fully ensured market. The tax will raise $8 billion starting in 2014, increase progressively each year and top off at $14.3 billion in 2018. The amount of the HIT the insurance company is responsible for is roughly equal to the percent of the market subject to the tax the insurance company covers. The larger the insurance company’s market share, the higher its annual HIT. Each of us knows what happens when costs rise. We can expect our insurers to pass their rising costs onto us.

Reports out of Washington indicate for the first time since 1986 tax reform may take place. Have you ever done a back-of-the-envelope calculation of your LIFO reserve? I have and I intend to bring that figure with me to show our elected officials its value to our company. This summer, the leading tax writers in the Senate have suggested scrapping the tax code (which we might all agree with), but how will a new tax code look? Will they eliminate the mortgage tax deduction? What about capital depreciation? Neither of these would be helpful to our businesses, which is why we should prepare to defend them.

Do you have showrooms? We do. It’s aggravating to lose a sale to the Internet after our team has taken the time to walk a customer through the process of designing their new bathroom or kitchen. Competition drives us all and makes for an efficient market, but this is a battle between brick-and-mortar operations such as ours that contribute to our community’s tax base and help it grow. Marketplace fairness will be an issue that gives our association and businesses the chance to increase our profile and give a voice to small businesses.

If these things concern, excite or anger you, rest assured you are not alone. You will also not be alone if you travel to Washington for this year’s annual NetworkASA convention. Join with your regional competitors and partners and take this opportunity to speak up for what’s important to you, your business and our industry.

 Did you know Washington was built on swampland? This fall, it’s time we put on our gators, roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty and fight for what is important to us. I look forward to seeing you there!