Legislative Agenda: A Year of Possibility for Printers, Marketers?
There is no question that 2017 will usher in a unique political scenario. President Donald Trump took office on Friday, with GOP majorities in both houses of the 115th Congress. That means there will be a unified Republican government for the first time in 88 years. What the Trump era means for the printing industry remains to be seen, but what is clear is that Trump’s policy proposals suggest that there are both opportunities and challenges ahead.
We turn to the leading experts in our industry to try to make sense of the many changes that lie ahead for the graphic arts industry, and highlight the key legislative issues that face U.S. printers in 2017, such as patent troll legislation, healthcare reform, the advertising deduction, paper option advocacy, taxes, international trade and postal reform.
According to Mark Nuzzaco, NPES VP of government affairs, having a unified government can have its advantages, but usually it isn’t without intra-party disagreements, and will require the ability to forge compromises to achieve progress. Although many details of the Trump administration policy are yet to be filled in, broad outlines suggest that there are also opportunities and challenges for NPES Government Affairs priorities.
Lisbeth Lyons, VP of government affairs for Printing Industries of America (PIA), points out that Trump’s initial policy statements are pro-business on core issues like taxes, regulations and healthcare, and that is cause for optimism in the industry.
“More than anything, we see that manufacturing is back in fashion,” Lyons says. “Trump campaigned — and won — in traditional manufacturing-heavy states and has long promoted domestic industries, such as printing. That will be a big departure from the current administration, which really focused on modern industries and companies. I believe manufacturers and legacy industries like print and paper will have a greater opportunity to engage with a Trump administration — and that’s exciting.”
Below, Nuzzaco and Lyons weigh in on some specific issues that strongly impact the printing industry and marketers, in general.
Patent Troll Legislation
Patent reform legislation in 2016 aimed at mitigating the impact of those abuses stalled in the 114th Congress, and it is unclear what Trump’s stance will be in 2017. “Trump hasn’t said much on patent trolls; in fact, I’m not sure how or if he’s even been briefed on it,” explains Lyons. “We know he’s been litigious in his own business career, so it’s incumbent upon PIA and our allies in the United for Patent Reform coalition to educate the administration on the economic impact trolls have on Main Street. President Obama was receptive to that argument and I think Trump will be, too.”
According to Lyons, “Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), who holds the No. 2 leadership position among Senate Republicans, and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is set to take over as Senate Democrat Leader following the retirement of Harry Reid (D-Nev.), are a bipartisan force to be reckoned with in their support for achieving a patent reform bill.” Lyons adds that California printers, tech companies and businesses in the state have also lobbied Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hard on the issue.
According to Nuzzaco, NPES will also continue to work with reform groups as lawmakers and industry advocates try to find a balance between measures that will lessen, if not eliminate, patent trolls’ negative effects, while preserving important and legitimate markets for intellectual property.
Trump has vowed to “repeal and replace” Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), which could also mean fixing the parts of the law that clearly don’t work, while keeping features like requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions and covering dependent children until the age of 26.
“Retaining these provisions will be challenging to pay for without requiring objectional employer and individual mandates,” stresses Nuzzaco. “Equally, if not more important to printers and their suppliers, is the need to stem rapidly rising insurance premiums for employees covered by their employers’ health insurance plans. NPES will be working extremely hard to protect and keep this key benefit affordable.”
Lyon believes that a vote on healthcare reform will happen early and with much fanfare, but the actual policy changes will take years to accomplish. “The reality here is that most changes of the Affordable Care Act and regulations governing it will be delayed so that Congress can remake the healthcare marketplace without total disruption.”
Lyons adds that PIA will continue to focus on employer-sponsored healthcare issues, such as increased access to affordable insurance policies for small businesses, repeal of taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act and elimination of provisions regarding how workers are counted for compliance with insurance mandates (or repealing such mandates, outright).
“In general, expect to see more market-centric approaches to the delivery of healthcare, such as allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines and expansion of consumer-driven healthcare products like Health Savings Accounts.”
PIA and its allies in the advertising sector scored a large win when House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady’s tax plan was released in 2016 without touching the current deduction. According to Lyons, tax reform will happen in 2017 barring any extraordinary circumstances, and PIA’s goal will be to make sure that it maintains Brady’s approach as a comprehensive bill is drafted and signed into law.