It was January 2007;America had withdrawn its armed forces from Iraq, provided health care for children nationwide, and the use of embryonic stem cells became permissible for the first time.
You don’t remember those things happening? It’s because they didn’t. As you’ll recall, Democrats swept both houses of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, setting up a confrontational final two years for President Bush, with the opposition party in full control to send him legislation as they chose.
Fast forward to January 2015, Republicans are in full control for the first time in Barack Obama’s presidency and by all accounts, they plan to take advantage of their majorities. Like their Democratic counterparts did on the campaign trail in 2006, they have made lofty promises, but will they end up with the same results?
It seems since the initial passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as they’ve labeled it, Republicans have declared their intentions to repeal the ACA. They’ve had limited success at chipping away at some of its parts, such as requiring employers to file an IRS 1099 form for every transaction greater than $600. A significant paperwork burden, which ultimately received bipartisan support to eliminate, the provision stands as a lone highlight for those wanting relief from this law.
The new majority may not achieve everything they’ve promised, but they are guaranteed to force the president to use his veto pen more so than his previous six years in office. With the president issuing veto threats, literally while the 114th Congress was being sworn in, voters can expect a fight. Historically, vote counters in Congress tallied the votes needed to reach 60 in order to pass a bill out of the Senate. Now that magic number will be 67, which is the number needed to override a veto.
It will be interesting to see whether the president stands by his veto threats and sends back all of the Republican’s priorities, or whether he will relent and finally allow a ready-made infrastructure project such as the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Time to Come to Washington is Now
How many times have you stood around the counter, warehouse or water cooler asking out loud, “What are they thinking in Washington”?
In my opinion, one of the most valuable resources available is the fifth-annual Supply House Times - American Supply Association roundtable interview. It’s where we can see firsthand what our members are thinking about on a variety of topics impacting their businesses. These are stories I’ve shared on Capitol Hill, stories about ongoing concerns over health care, the uncertainties that still exist in our economy, and the various opinions and practices to confront e-commerce.
As one participant stated, “In my opinion, health care is not in a healthy place for small businesses in the United States right now…we have no idea the ripple effect it will create and the challenges that are before us.” That is a story and sentiment that should be told to policymakers directly. When costs are broken down as effectively as Robertson Heating Supply’s Scott Robertson did when he said: “…you divide $12,000 into a salary of $32,000 to $34,000 a year and that one fringe benefit is about a third of what we pay in compensation. You are seeing restaurants now taking employees down to 30 hours or less because they can’t afford to pay a worker who qualifies for insurance. It’s upside-down for those people in that $15-$20 an hour range.”
These are concerns that Congress needs to hear, firsthand. The multiplying effect of a stakeholder, such as a small business owner making this case, backed up by real-world evidence, is immeasurable. As the ones fighting in the trenches every day, who have to live under the rules and regulations put forth by the government while making sure payroll is met, ASA members have the greatest reason and opportunity to come to Washington.