The coming battle for federal bucks

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President Trump this week sent his 2018 fiscal-year budget to Congress. As fast as it came to life, it’s gotten panned by Democrats and Republicans alike. And, while it’s loaded with a new wave of spending cuts, it really means nothing.

That’s because the budget is established by Congress, not the administration. Still, a lot of what the President wants will likely make it into the final budget when it’s ultimately hammered out late this summer.

So, it’s important that dealers be aware of the various proposals from the administration that could negatively impact our industry if they were to make it into the final version. Conversely, we must strive to get included those things that could be good for boating, for example, in infrastructure spending.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association’s team in Washington has already taken an early look at the Trump proposal that cuts $3.6 trillion in spending, the biggest proposed reduction forwarded by any president (see Wednesday’s Trade Only Today report). The cuts hit nearly all federal agencies.

NMMA federal and legal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros identified seven areas that would have an impact on boating, ranging from cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to the Department of Interior and Commerce Department. The National Sea Grant College Program in 38 states would disappear as would the Coastal Zone Management Program, Coastal Salmon Recovery Program and the Great Lakes Initiative, to mention just a few.

But the good news is it’s only just begun. As an industry, in the budgeting process ahead we’ll need to push the administration on our industry priorities and we’ll have to address specific committee members in the Senate and House where the real budget action will take place.

While the final budget isn’t likely to resemble the president’s, there should be no doubt much of what Trump has forwarded could make it across the finish line, including many things our industry clearly doesn’t want to happen.

Accordingly, as things move forward, it will be incumbent upon the dealer side of the industry to become seriously and vocally engaged with the rest of the industry by opposing certain cuts and protecting desirable programs. Lobbyists alone cannot win the day. It will mean dealers must be willing to contact their senators and representatives by email and/or phone to influence positions and solicit support.

When action is needed, notice will come from several sources, like the NMMA, Boating United, Keep America Fishing, this blog in Trade Only Today and more. And then you’ll need to chime in with your representatives in Congress.

So, this time around, commit to making your voice heard.

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