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Catie Kawchak

Congress Must Act Now To Stop Burdensome Health Care Taxes From Taking Effect

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Rising health care costs continue to burden manufacturing workers and American families. Unfortunately, three health care taxes are set to add even more costs to health care budgets across the country.

In 10 months, the medical device tax and the health insurance tax will go into effect. The Cadillac Tax, a 40 percent tax on “high-quality” employer-sponsored health plans, will come into full force in 2022. Regrettably, more and more employer-sponsored plans will be considered “high-quality” and taxed at the 40 percent rate because of the design of the tax, which will increase the financial burden on American families and manufacturing workers.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Congress can act now to prevent these taxes from increasing health care costs—and manufacturers are urging it do so.

Companies are already facing hard decisions between setting aside funds to pay for the looming medical device tax bill or hiring potential new employees, investing in research and development or expanding operations. We already know the impact of the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical technologies because it went into effect for the two-year period of 2013 and 2014. During this time, tens of millions of dollars were diverted—either canceled or delayed—from innovative new research and almost 29,000 jobs were lost, according the U.S. Department of Commerce. Congress cannot allow this to happen again.

With the clock ticking on health care taxes, companies have already started preparing, and Congress must unite to address these health care taxes in advance of the looming deadlines. Today, a bipartisan group of 20 senators worked together to advance efforts to achieve full repeal of the medical device tax by introducing the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2019. The National Association of Manufacturers key-voted similar legislation in the 115th Congress, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 283-132.

Manufacturers urge the House to introduce companion legislation and for Republicans and Democrats to expeditiously advance legislation to address the health care taxes that are fast approaching.

 

Time For A Bipartisan Approach to Overcome Biggest Infrastructure Bill Challenge: How To Fund It

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Lawmakers from both political parties can agree that we need better infrastructure. To achieve that goal, however, Congress must take a bipartisan approach to overcome the biggest challenge of passing an infrastructure bill—how to fund it.

Yesterday’s U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Hearing “Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action” was a step toward that end that asked the hard questions about funding. Witnesses representing both business and organized labor agreed that the time is now to modernize the user fees that fund our infrastructure. The National Association of Manufacturers believes that this funding mechanism will be a key component to an infrastructure package, and the NAM-led Infrastructure Working Group brought 150 diverse trade association together with the same message in February.

How Congress proceeds with an infrastructure package will have broad economic implications. According to the NAM Outlook Survey released earlier this week, manufacturers have recorded nine consecutive quarters of record optimism, thanks in part to pro-growth policies—and tax reform in particular. Tax reform has already helped manufacturers invest more, hire more and pay workers more. Yet, as this quarter’s survey also showed, rolling back tax reform—as some have previously suggested to pay for infrastructure—would have the opposite impact. No one wants that. To keep the momentum for manufacturing and our economy going, we need to keep moving forward on all fronts. That means doing infrastructure the right way, and last week the NAM released manufacturers’ blueprint for how to get there.

Our “Building to Win” plan envisions robust investments to repair and reinvigorate the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. Our plan calls for and outlines potential solutions to recurring funding shortages, such as indexing or increasing the federal fuel tax as well as introducing a vehicle mile traveled fees. “Building to Win” is based off a principle that forms the bedrock of our infrastructure system—namely that transportation networks should be funded through user fees paid by the companies and individuals who typically use and benefit from them.

Tuesday, while speaking at the NAM Spring 2019 Board of Directors Meeting, Vice President Mike Pence said “This president and our administration are absolutely committed to rebuilding the infrastructure of America. It is time for a major bill from the Congress to rebuild the roads and bridges and ports and highways of America.” And yesterday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), agreed, saying, “We have a real opportunity to do something really big.” Manufacturers agree—in fact, the NAM Outlook Survey showed a large majority of manufacturers saying that passage of a major infrastructure bill would positively impact their company’s business plans and outlook. Now what’s needed is for both parties in Washington to come together to get infrastructure done in a smart, bipartisan way that keeps manufacturing’s optimism strong and our country’s economy moving forward. We’ll continue working with members of both parties to get that done.

Manufacturers Support Global Movement of Goods by Air

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Before Open Skies agreements, international commerce was stifled by post–World War II aviation rules that required governments to mandate flight routes between nations. These antiquated rules could not adapt to the aviation needs of a global economy and emerging technologies. In 1992, the United States signed an Open Skies agreement with the Netherlands to provide for unlimited flight between the two nations. Of course, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was, and still is, responsible for ensuring that all airlines—foreign and domestic, passenger and cargo—are safe and airworthy. The bipartisan pursuit of Open Skies agreements created a framework to enable U.S. passenger and cargo airlines to access foreign aviation markets that had previously shut out U.S. air carriers. They also provide manufacturers the ability to access new customers in overseas markets while increasing competition and facilitating global trade.

Manufacturers have been stalwart advocates of these agreements because we export U.S.-made parts and goods across the world and thus depend on air cargo services with the kind of uninterrupted and continuous global reach that only Open Skies agreements can provide. In fact, the Brookings Institution estimates that Open Skies agreements add approximately $4 billion in annual economic gains to consumers. Learn more here.

And so, with the FAA reauthorization process underway and a September 30 authorization deadline looming, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) continues to urge both House and Senate leaders to support current Open Skies agreements because they open markets, promote competition and offer more options for manufacturers to access overseas customers. At the same time, manufacturers urge the Senate to reject proposals that would undermine Open Skies agreements and result in disruptions to the current agreements, jeopardizing manufacturers’ access to international aviation networks. That is why manufacturers stand with the Trump administration’s opposition to the so-called “Flag of Convenience” provision (Section 530) of the House-passed FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4). This provision would create new barriers for foreign carriers to enter U.S. airspace beyond the negotiated standards of our current Open Skies agreements. These new barriers would violate our current agreements and invite retaliatory action against U.S. cargo and passenger air carriers operating across the globe and providing manufacturers access to overseas customers. Learn more here.

Manufacturers need products and parts made in the United States to continue to have the guaranteed delivery to overseas customers that is protected by our current Open Skies agreements, and so we have been active on this issue for some time. In 2015, the NAM underscored to the departments of Commerce, State and Transportation that manufacturers in the United States depend on sales overseas to sustain and grow American operations and U.S.-based employment. And in 2017, the NAM reminded the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that Open Skies bilateral aviation agreements are one of several important tools that help ensure manufacturers’ access to global markets and critical services that support manufacturers in the United States. Now, with the Senate considering Open Skies agreements as part of the FAA reauthorization legislation, the NAM is again speaking out by urging Congress to reject false, so-called “Flags of Convenience” amendments and protect manufacturers’ access to international aviation networks and overseas customers that only these agreements can provide.

Manufacturers Unite with Retail, Labor and More to Call for Infrastructure Bill

By | General, Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), in partnership with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), led two Infrastructure Working Group (IWG) Hill Days on March 6 and 7 to build momentum on Capitol Hill behind a substantial investment in the country’s infrastructure. Over the past two days, representatives of manufacturers, organized labor, agriculture, retail, finance and local government held roughly 50 meetings with congressional leadership and members from the relevant authorizing committees. Some flew into D.C. from as far away as Texas and Iowa to make the case for upgrades to our nation’s infrastructure systems.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr authored an op-ed in The Hill, Manufacturing and construction are expanding and ready to take on infrastructure package. They said:

“In other words, if we want to keep the momentum going, then Washington needs to enact a substantial infrastructure package as soon as possible. It’s an important message and one we’re taking to Capitol Hill today as part of the Infrastructure Working Group, bringing together a wide range of viewpoints, from labor, to retail, to finance, to agriculture. We are united in our determination to demonstrate broad support for infrastructure and see the type of action we think is necessary.”

The IWG has been meeting monthly for the past year, hearing from key policymakers in Congress and the White House and discussing solutions to address our country’s inadequately funded infrastructure. The group launched its first advocacy initiatives this year. At the beginning of this year’s congressional session, the NAM led an IWG letter signed by more than 100 business groups to the Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate, urging them to develop and advance an infrastructure bill. These Hill Days brought that message directly to key members of the House and Senate.

There’s no doubt we need a substantial infrastructure investment. Republicans and Democrats both recognize that America’s economic competitiveness depends on first-rate infrastructure systems. Key manufacturing, retail and labor leaders made the following statements of support below:

David Farr, NAM Board Chair, Chairman and CEO, Emerson

“The time is now to work together to pass a targeted, substantial investment in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure that includes a more reliable, user-based funding stream to keep building roads, bridges, transit systems and highways far into the future. We can create more jobs, boost growth, save lives and help secure America’s mantle of economic leadership in the process. Manufacturers are all in to get infrastructure done, and we stand ready to do our part and build to win.”

Sean McGarvey, President, North America’s Building Trades Unions

“The Infrastructure Working Group Hill Days will allow congressional leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, to hear from a broad and sizable coalition of stakeholders on the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure. The state of our infrastructure presents a real challengethe 14 affiliated unions of North America’s Building Trades know it, and the American people know it. It is now up to Congress to meet this challenge with a broad, robust, responsible bipartisan infrastructure package, and we are willing to work with our coalition partners and members of Congress to pass a bill that addresses our present infrastructure challenges and creates good job opportunities for the hard-working craft professionals of North America’s Building Trades Unions.”

Matthew Shay, President and CEO, National Retail Federation

“Representing some of the nation’s largest shippers, NRF continues to call on Congress to follow the president’s lead and act on infrastructure this year. If we keep kicking the can down the road, this urgent issue will become even more challenging and costly to address. We hope bipartisan discussions will produce the infrastructure solutions American retailers, workers and consumers have been waiting for.”

The NAM has been a national leader for years on infrastructure and enshrined manufacturers priorities in our “Building to Win” proposal. Manufacturers will continue to lead this push for results and work with lawmakers so that a bipartisan infrastructure investment makes it to the finish line.

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