WASHINGTON — The status quo national election of 2012 has left retailers and their national associations in limbo about the future of many issues they consider important, from tax reform to measures that could foster economic expansion.
“Our industry is challenged by continued high unemployment and the continued uncertainty that we face coming out of Washington,” said Steve Smith, chairman and chief executive officer, K-VA-T Food Stores, Abingdon, Va. “We need to have folks in Washington that will at least sit down and talk with each other and try and come up with some budgets and try and get our spending under control, and try and get some confidence in our business community, so we can get some people back to work.”
President Obama’s re-election, along with the retention of a Democratic majority in the Senate and Republican majority in the House, likely ensures that health care reform will not be repealed, observers noted, and also portends ongoing labor-friendly activity at the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board.
Of major concern to retailers is tax reform, with the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts” set to expire at the end of the year, hampering the ability of businesses to conduct financial planning.
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“There are a number of critical issues have to be addressed,” Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs, Food Marketing Institute, told SN. “We are going to have to work with both sides — both bipartisan and bicameral, with both parties and both houses of Congress — to get it done.”
Peter Larkin, president and chief executive officer, National Grocers Association, said House Speaker John Boehner will play a key role. “He is the key to it,” Larken said, noting that Congress will need to reach some compromises to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the combination of spending cuts and tax increases set to occur in January.
“I think this election gives the president and the Democratically controlled Senate some very strong leverage, and it will require Speaker Boehner to be a tough negotiator about how this country will address debt reduction, tax reform and the fiscal cliff," Larkin told SN.
Concerning health care reform, Larkin said he expects "a flood of regulations that have been dammed up in anticipation of the election.
"We now expect to see them coming out very rapidly. We are going to have to have to engage, as we have been, to find out the impact of each of those regulations on the independent grocery community," he said.
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