A variety of issues on the federal level are attracting industry attention these days:
The 1099 Repeal: Reports are only half-true of the successful repeal of the new 1099 requirements that will bury small businesses under an avalanche of new 1099 tax reporting requirements. According to Larry Innis, MRAA’s Washington lobbyist, “A House-passed repeal bill is languishing in the Senate. Most agree to repeal it, but since it would generate revenue repeal needs to include an offset to meet pay-go."
The House-passed repeal bill contains a controversial provision to offset the $22 billion income the new reporting requirements allegedly will deliver to Washington. But many believe the $22 billion is fantasy anyway. For years IRS wanted to slam small businesses with increased 1099 requirements, but could never find support in Congress. That is, until IRS buried it deep in the healthcare bill. IRS arrived at the revenue figure using the SWAG (scientific wild ass guess) method! Bottom line: Tell your senator to support small business and get the 1099 repeal done once and for all.
Gas Prices: We know uprisings in the Middle East are largely responsible for the increases in oil prices. What we don’t know, yet, is whether this will push our economy into another tailspin. We do know President Obama is feeling pressure to release some Strategic Petroleum Reserves to restrain price increases at the gas pumps. We also know that economists like James Hamilton at the University of California have noted that 10 of the 11 post-WWII recessions were preceded by sharp increases in crude prices.
We also know high gas prices seriously hold down consumer discretionary spending and that could end our industry’s all-too fragile recovery. Moreover, we know even just uncertainty over gas prices leads people and businesses to postpone purchases of durable goods and capital expenditures, respectively.
While 10 of 11 recessions followed oil price increases, Hamilton’s also points out that oil spiked in 2003 (a Venezuelan oil strike and start of Gulf War II), but the economy rode out that short-term price hike well. The economy is clearly not as robust now, however, so it would seem prudent to sell off some oil from the SPR to help avoid a possible economic downturn. If you agree, email the White House.
Fishing, or not: In 2006, Congress reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Ever since, recreational anglers, charter captains and commercial fishermen have been seeking changes. That’s because the reauthorized MSA imposed a requirement that all management plans for overfished stocks include the shortest possible timeline for stock rebuilding, mainly not longer than 10 years. In addition, MSA mandated NOAA improve its science and data collection which are woefully poor and inaccurate. Sounds good, right? It’s been a fishing disaster!
Beside the fact that NOAA has failed to meet the requirement for more accurate data, the MSA has essentially led to fishermen, primarily recreational anglers, being shut out of fisheries such black bass, grouper, red snapper, among others. Moreover, even if there was better science and data, the rigid timelines in MSA, if not made more flexible, will result in more and more anglers being denied access to fisheries. It’s an ugly picture!
The Recreational Fishing Alliance is spearheading legislative efforts to overhaul MSA. According to Capt. Bob Zales, president of the National Association of Charterboat Operators, "It’s clear the current MSA is too restrictive, several mandates have not been implemented, and the science, stock assessments and recreational data programs need serious attention. The fisheries along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico are already being adversely affected by MSA. We must get some change and flexibility into our fisheries laws now."
If fishing is important to your dealership, contact your senators and congressman and urge support of necessary changes in MSA.