This year’s presidential and congressional election was among the biggest in the history of our nation, with record turnout from voters exercising their right as Americans to determine the direction of the country.
Regardless of the leaders or parties in power, the goal of the National Grocers Association remains the same – to work with our nation’s leaders on policies and programs that help the nation’s independent supermarkets do a better job feeding the communities in which they operate.
As of [Nov. 6], the race between Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden was still undecided but inching toward the latter. Meanwhile, it appeared that Republicans could hold a majority in the Senate (pending possible runoffs in Georgia) and Democrats would maintain control of the House despite dropping a few seats.
Assuming a Democratic presidency, what can independent grocers expect from a Biden White House?
Higher taxes, for one. A Biden administration likely would seek to boost the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, phase out small business deductions and increase the number of businesses being hit by the estate tax. We’d also expect Biden to pursue a federal hourly minimum wage of $15, matching the rate enacted by many localities.
He also supports expansion of paid leave and reversal of Trump-era overtime rules. Further, Biden is expected to restore Obamacare mandates and demand stricter requirements on employers.
But while Biden would present challenges to the independent supermarket industry, his administration is expected to usher in a new era of vigorous antitrust enforcement.
Depending on who is nominated to lead enforcement agencies, we believe it may be easier to gain traction on the Robinson-Patman Act, meant to protect small businesses from discriminatory terms of trade but no longer enforced.
Additionally, a Biden administration likely would be more friendly to the expansion of federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program.
NGA looks forward to working with all the winners of the Nov. 3 election toward our common goal of creating a stronger America. Leading the charge toward that goal are independent grocers, whose investments in their communities create jobs, generate tax revenues and provide essential goods to generations of individuals.
As the nation approaches the new year still in the throes of a pandemic, another round of relief is overdue and essential for grocery retailers as well as consumers. NGA is advocating for three main priorities in the next package.
Since early March, NGA members have experienced sustained and unprecedented levels of demand for grocery and household products. The industry’s ability to meet our customers’ needs would not be possible without the dedicated and talented frontline workers, whose sacrifices must be recognized in the next relief package.
NGA supports the bipartisan AG CHAIN Act (HR 6841), introduced by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), a bill that provides an exclusion from gross income taxes and temporary payroll tax relief to essential food and agriculture workers.
NGA members take their responsibility seriously to feed the American public. Unfortunately, grocers are under threat of frivolous litigation simply for remaining open during the pandemic.
NGA is requesting that Congress protect essential infrastructure business from unnecessary liability exposure, provided these businesses took reasonable steps to comply with the guidance from the CDC or other health authorities.
NGA supports the Safe to Work Act (S. 4317), a bill championed by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would help ensure grocers are protected if they made their best efforts to comply with federal, state and local guidance.
Further, NGA asks that Congress include the Expanding SNAP Option Acts (HR 7535 /S. 4202) in the next pandemic package. This legislation would expand access to online SNAP by providing grocers with technical assistance help in implementing an online program and deferring expensive startup costs for retailers that lack capacity and resources necessary to get online.
Additionally, NGA also requests that Congress consider emergency funding to help shore up GusNIP, a popular program that increases the purchasing power of SNAP customers when they buy healthy fruits and vegetables.
Another proposed bill would provide a retroactive tax credit for retailers who began accepting SNAP for online grocery purchases beginning on Dec. 31, 2019. The credit would apply to qualifying expenses, such as the start-up costs associated with working with a third-party processor to accept SNAP payments online.
Independent grocers appreciate the leadership our elected officials are providing through this public health and economic crisis. NGA stands ready to work with Congress to ensure Americans’ most basic needs are being met during this unprecedented time.
Greg Ferrara is president and CEO of the National Grocers Association.