Do whatever it takes to avoid the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’
That was the message from Indmar Marine Engines president Chuck Rowe, who gave House Republican leaders a seldom-heard small-business perspective Wednesday in a meeting on Capitol Hill.
Rowe and eight other small business owners met with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
National Marine Manufacturers Association legislative director Jim Currie and NMMA government relations office vice president John McKnight, who sat in on the meeting, said Rowe let legislators know that the marine industry is made up of small-business owners.
“He expressed concern that if we went over the fiscal cliff that unemployment would rise by 4 percent and that would really be a bad thing for the marine industry in general,” Currie told Soundings Trade Only after the meeting. “We are very much a discretionary product, and if people are not sure of what the future is going to be like financially, they’re not going to buy a boat.”
Rowe told legislators that a dealer he met with in Orlando told the story of two serious prospects who left empty-handed because they were too uncertain about the fiscal cliff, Currie said.
“Chuck’s message was, ‘We can’t go over this fiscal cliff. Do what you have to do. It would be great if you cut spending more than raising taxes, but the main thing is, get it done.’ ”
The meeting stemmed from a call Rowe made last week to Currie and McKnight.
“We had just gotten a call from Chuck Rowe commenting that all he was reading about was that the White House and others were meeting with gigantic corporations,” Currie said. “He was wondering when someone was going to meet with smaller businesses like him.”
Currie and McKnight mentioned Rowe’s comments at a meeting with McCarthy’s staff last week, prompting the invitation for Rowe to join the small meeting.
“Each had their own ideas, but there was one overriding message,” McKnight told Trade Only. “That was that they’re looking for the government to just get its act together and have some kind of stability. Right now, we don’t know how much we’re going to be taxed next year.”
“Take the uncertainty out of our economic future,” Currie added.
After the meeting Rowe got back on an airplane to return to Orlando — he’d flown up for the day on his own dime from his family vacation because he thought it was such a unique opportunity to make the voice of the marine industry heard.
“It was pretty cool because we’ve never had that opportunity before,” McKnight said. “We’ve had tons of hearings with Congress ... but to have the House speaker, the House majority leader and whip, listening in a room with just a few people. It’s amazing that we got our guy in there.”
— Reagan Haynes