If you live in one of the 2012 battleground states, you are probably thankful that Election Day has come and gone. Your phone has stopped ringing, your mailbox is not overflowing with political flyers and you can watch television without being bombarded with ads for candidates and causes. A record $6 billion was spent in an attempt to change the course of our government, but after all the votes were counted we are left with…the status quo!
President Barack Obama handily won re-election, carrying almost every state he won in 2008, except Indiana and North Carolina. Though Republicans had every opportunity to win a majority in the Senate, they ended up losing two seats, bringing the current makeup of the Senate to 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two Independents, who will caucus with the Democrats. The GOP retained control of the House of Representatives with a relatively comfortable margin, but lost some seats to Democrats, bringing the new House makeup to 233 Republicans, 195 Democrats and seven seats that are still in contention (at press time).
While this election brought about more of the same, it also gave President Obama and the Senate leadership some very strong leverage coming into 2013, especially when it comes to debt reduction, the fiscal cliff and tax reform. One can argue that Speaker
John Boehner’s job will be particularly hard, trying to negotiate a deal with Democrats to avert the fiscal cliff while simultaneously uniting his divided Republican House behind one message.
In terms of industry issues, healthcare reform is here to stay. The re-election of President Obama further proves that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be implemented, and the industry needs to be clearly focused on implementation while working with Congress to address some of the most problematic provisions. The uncertainty of the 2012 elections dammed up rulemaking on the ACA temporarily, but now that elections are over, guidance will be forthcoming. NGA will continue to work closely with Congress and the Administration to push for regulations that are the least burdensome to retailers and wholesalers.
The crushing national debt ensures efforts to rein in spending and reform the tax code will have momentum. As with any effort to reform taxes and spending, everyone is in favor of it until their special exemption or carve-out in the tax code is on the chopping block. NGA supports reform that is fair, balanced and ensures parity among C-Corp, S-Corps and other pass-through entities. NGA has been engaged early on in this process and will continue to be going forward.
Not since the days of President Jimmy Carter has this country seen more power and influence from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Department of Labor (DOL) than in the current Administration. NGA awaits decisions from the courts on the NLRB’s burdensome poster law as well as unlawful recess appointments being challenged in “Noel Canning vs. the NLRB” which may eventually make it to the Supreme Court. NGA also anticipates regulations from the DOL known as the “Persuader Rule” that would narrow the interpretation of the employer “advice” exemption under the “Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.” NGA will continue to engage regulators and support legal challenges to misguided and illegal anti-business actions. The regulatory burdens on the business community in the coming years are only anticipated to worsen.
With the 2012 elections in the rearview mirror, the retail industry is still left with the same uncertainty it started with. Will the 113th Congress continue on with the same gridlock as the 112th Congress? Or will President Obama and the new Congress turn a new page and work together in the bipartisan manner both have promised? Only time will tell.