Editor’s note: The opinions and comments expressed in the association’s commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Lee Newspapers Inc. and RockRoadRecycle.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement on what the 2018 midterm elections mean for the equipment manufacturing industry.
“After a midterm election that saw record turnout and interest, there’s now a renewed opportunity for President Trump and Congress to work across party lines to tackle the issues that will help grow our economy and keep our nation strong,” said Slater. “Modernizing our nation’s infrastructure, promoting free and fair trade and supporting a strong agriculture economy should all be bipartisan priorities for the 116th Congress. The equipment manufacturing industry stands ready to do its part by working with Congress and the administration to solve some of our nation’s biggest policy challenges so that we can add to the 1.3 million good-paying jobs our industry supports.”
Many of the top issues for voters in the midterm elections are issues that are also important to the equipment manufacturing industry.
The escalating trade dispute with China and the decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has had a negative impact on the equipment manufacturing industry. U.S. equipment manufacturers are facing higher production costs while the impact of retaliatory tariffs by trading partners hurt the U.S. agriculture sector and threaten to reduce the domestic sales of agriculture equipment. AEM believes that Republicans and Democrats should work together to address the uncertainty and disruption caused by the administration’s trade policies. This includes efforts to negotiate fair, binding and enforceable trade agreements with countries and open up new markets for U.S. equipment manufacturers.
The lack of any meaningful action on a comprehensive infrastructure bill means that expectations for Congress and the administration to act next year will be even higher. Voters have repeatedly made it clear that they want Washington to keep its promise to rebuild and invest in roads, highways, bridges, ports, pipelines and broadband networks. Equipment manufacturers will send a strong message to both Democrat and Republican members of the 116th Congress that they should start with infrastructure. That means working together in a bipartisan fashion to identify a long-term and sustainable funding mechanism for the Highway Trust Fund, connect urban and rural America through new infrastructure, ensure that projects are delivered in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner and provide job-training programs for the workforce that will help us reclaim our infrastructure advantage.
A strong agriculture economy creates a strong manufacturing sector. Farm policies have a major impact on the health of the farm economy, which in turn is a key driver of equipment manufacturing employment. Congress can and must pass a farm bill so that farmers and ranchers can keep providing our nation’s food security. Republicans and Democrats should also work together to craft a comprehensive energy policy for our nation, including supporting a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and work to advance efforts to expand ethanol fueling infrastructure and work to open up more new markets around the globe for U.S. farmers and ranchers.
Tax reform empowered the equipment manufacturing industry to create jobs, improve the quality of life and build more in America. Many equipment manufacturers have hired more workers, created more well paying jobs, invested more in America and raised wages. Also, the industry has been given license to compete more fiercely in the global economy. Democrats and Republicans should work together to fix errors in the new tax law, which could create an opportunity to pass new, bipartisan tax legislation. Specifically, Congress should work in a bipartisan fashion to make the new tax code even stronger for equipment manufacturers, including making permanent full expensing for short-life investments and the deduction for qualified business income, as well as making the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) a true alternative minimum tax.
Every year, AEM’s grassroots campaign “I Make America” works to engage and motivate many of the equipment manufacturers’ 1.3 million men and women to get involved in the political process. This year’s activities included dozens of events at equipment manufacturing facilities, including the I Make America Town Hall Tour. To get our industry’s men and women more engaged this election year, the Town Hall Tour brought policy and industry experts to shop floors across the country for engaging and in-depth discussions on key policy issues — including trade, infrastructure and agriculture — and was attended by more than 500 workers and watched by thousands more online. According to post-event polls, two-thirds of attendees felt they had a better understanding of the issues impacting the industry after participating in the Town Hall Tour.