AED Outlines 2010 Legislative Priorities

Wed February 03, 2010 - National Edition
CEG



Christian Klein, AED’s vice president of government affairs outlined AED’s priorities on Capitol Hill during the AED Summit Press Conference Jan. 21, 2010.

Enact A Multi-Year Highway Bill That Dramatically Increases Investment To Meet America’s Critical Infrastructure Needs.

The federal highway program expired on Sept. 30, 2009, and Congress has failed to enact a new multi-year highway investment blueprint. Underinvestment has crippled the arteries of national commerce and congestion costs the U.S. economy $87 billion per year in wasted time and fuel. Not only are highways and bridges in dire need of a major upgrade, but the uncertainty surrounding the future of the highway program is adding to historic volatility in the construction industry and equipment markets.

Current sources of revenue for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) are outmoded and outdated. Congress must find fiscally-responsible ways to ensure the long-term integrity of the HTF and dramatically increase investment in transportation infrastructure. A highway user fee increase should be part of the short-term fix until Congress can agree on a sustainable, long-term solution to fund our nation’s highway program. In order for the United States to remain competitive in the coming years, Congress and the administration must make a multi-year highway reauthorization bill a priority.

Increase Funding for Federal Water Infrastructure Programs.

Government and industry studies have estimated the nation’s water infrastructure needs over the next two decades in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure a D minus, the lowest grade of any infrastructure category.

AED encourages Congress to reauthorize and increase funding for Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. Congress also should create a dedicated, sustainable mechanism to fund water infrastructure investment.

Enact Legislation To Revitalize The Equipment Industry.

In November 2009, AED scored major victories with the extension and expansion of two tax provisions from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA” or “the stimulus bill”) relating to net operating loss (NOL) carryback and home purchase tax incentives.

AED urges Congress to enact other tax legislation that will create jobs in the industry and spur economic growth, including capital investment incentives and the creation of new tax credits to encourage “clean diesel” equipment purchases. Congress and the administration also must develop policies to ensure that credit is available to equipment distributors, manufacturers, purchasers, and to developers.

Protect The Rights Of Employers And Employees.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA or “card check”) would eliminate the right to secret ballot in union-organized elections, provide unions with significant organizing advantages, and permit a government arbitrator to impose a two-year collective bargaining contract on employers and employees — even if neither party consents to the contract terms.

AED urges Congress to reject any legislation that undermines workers’ democratic rights or that allows government bureaucrats to impose collective bargaining contract terms on workers and employers.

Repeal The Government Contractor Withholding Tax.

In 2012, a new three percent withholding tax for government contractors is scheduled to take effect. The tax will increase contract administration costs at all levels of government and hurt the cash flow of companies doing business with the government. Congress should repeal the three percent government contractor withholding tax.

Protect LIFO.

For close to three-quarters of a century, the last-in, first-out (LIFO) inventory accounting method has been used by businesses in inventory-intensive industries, including construction equipment distributors, to manage the impact of inflation. AED survey data suggests that repealing LIFO could cost AED members alone more than $900 million in retroactive tax liability. AED strongly urges Congress to reject any effort to repeal LIFO.

Resolve Estate Tax Uncertainty.

The estate tax disproportionately impacts owners of capital-intensive family businesses. To preserve the company for the next generation, business owners must devote considerable sums to developing estate plans and buying estate tax-related life insurance, rather than investing in their companies and employees. Without congressional action, in 2010, the estate tax will be fully repealed, before returning to the pre-2001 rates in 2011. Ideally, Congress would enact legislation to permanently repeal the estate tax. If not full repeal, Congress must work toward a reasonable solution to end the uncertainty surrounding the estate tax once and for all so that family businesses do not continue to incur massive estate planning charges as the estate tax rate continues to jump around year after year.

Help Small Businesses Provide Health Insurance To Their Employees.

Congress must help small businesses access affordable, quality health care. The best way to do this is to provide affordable health plan options, greater choice, and new ways to purchase and provide insurance for their employees. Legislation should lower the skyrocketing costs for small businesses providing health care for their employees by permitting small companies to band together through associations and allow private insurance companies to compete in the open market place for their business. Unfortunately, the health care proposals debated in Congress last year will be detrimental to small businesses and will do nothing to solve the problem of skyrocketing costs of providing health insurance coverage for employees at small companies.