The food industry views this fall's presidential election as more than just another chance to push its agenda. It sees the election of Bob Dole, the presumptive Republican nominee, is seen as an imperative to ending burdensome regulations and damaging economic practices fostered under the Clinton administration. Dole has repeatedly favored industry programs ranging from regulatory reduction to estate tax reform. On a personal level, Dole is viewed as a longtime friend to the food industry. President Clinton's record apparently has become more despised by the industry with each passing year. Following are articles on how the industry sizes up the careers and outlooks of both men, with comments from top association representatives.
A Benefactor of Business
Bob Dole's record in the Senate has been in lockstep with industry concerns for decades
WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Bob Dole's popularity in the food industry isn't surprising, but the depth and intensity of support he draws is awesome following four years of a Democratic White House.
After 28 years in the Senate, Dole, R-Kan., the likely GOP presidential nominee, has racked up a pro-business record founded on getting government out of the business of business. He has repeatedly thrown himself on the tracks between a Democratic Congress and its legislative agenda. And while he has not always prevailed, he has been a champion of corporate America. "He'd be a great president," said John R. Block, president of Food Distributors International (which includes the National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association), Falls Church, Va. "He and the food industry have been on the same side of virtually all the issues. Dole has carried the water on issue after issue of great importance to the food industry." Dole has made many friends like Block, who freely acknowledges that were it not for Dole, he wouldn't be where he is today. It was Dole, who knew Block as director of agriculture in Illinois, who pushed former President Ronald Reagan to hire Block as agriculture secretary. Dole is a staunch defender of agriculture, and especially the Kansas farmers who repeatedly send him to Washington. He has consistently broken conservative ranks and voted to protect and enlarge the food stamp program, a popular item among grocers.
During the 1995 session of the 104th Congress, the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce gave Dole a 100% ranking for voting with business on all of 19 key votes. His cumulative total since being elected to the Senate in 1968 is 85%, among the most pro-business members of the Senate. The list of items that Dole has worked with the industry on this past year is long: minimum wage, striker replacement, and ambitious regulatory reform and tax reform. Again and again, Dole has sided with industry against minimum wage hikes, against restrictions on employers hiring replacements for striking workers and against what industry considers burdensome regulations. He also has favored an industry plan to reduce estate taxes on small businesses when principals die. "In terms of addressing issues facing America, Bob Dole would look at less federal government, and a more state and local government approach," said Thomas K. Zaucha, president of the National Grocers Association, Reston, Va. "Dole would be opposed to organized labor's formalized agenda."
Just recently he blocked a Democratic-backed attempt to force a vote on a 90-cent hike in the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15 over two years. A hike in the wage floor is especially critical to grocers, who give many people their first jobs. "The minimum wage is a jobs issue," said George Green, assistant general counsel and vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, Washington. Higher wage floors force employers to reduce the number of jobs to save on higher payroll costs, Green said. FMI does not endorse any presidential candidate, said Harry Sullivan, FMI senior vice president and general counsel. Yet Sullivan readily says, "Senator Dole has a long history with the food and agriculture industries. We have a lot of background with him in the Senate. There's not just one thing they can point to, he's been so involved on so many things."
Zaucha also underlined Dole's consistent industry support, noting, "Bob Dole proved to be a courageous leader and has advanced many positions consistent with that philosophy." Pointing to the Republican effort to turn many federal programs over to states, Zaucha said Dole had been crucial in advancing the GOP agenda, despite vetoes from President Clinton. "Bob Dole could change attitudes that have been prevalent over two decades. He is a reflection of the mood today. One thing about Dole, he doesn't waffle on where he stands on the issues. Over the years he has been very effective in seeking the compromises that needed to occur."
Jeff Nedelman, vice president of communications and strategic planning at the Grocery Manufacturers of America, Washington, said Dole has been a leader on issues important to us. He has been a lightning rod that focuses attention on issues that have been laying around Congress for many years."