The American democratic experiment is in the throes of a significant stress test.
When it is resolved, on January 20, 2021, president-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States. And he will have both a Democratic House and Senate, following a pair of victories for Democrats in the Georgia run-off elections.
The Georgia Senate seat gains are a game-changer, because now, Democrats will control both houses of Congress. So, what does that mean?
Georgia’s Democratic victories mean that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will control what goes to the Senate floor instead of Senator Mitch McConnell, who notoriously kept Democratic priorities off the Senate agenda. Picking up the two Georgia seats gave Democrats 50 seats, which becomes a majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking votes. This tie-breaking ability in the Senate is critical. It makes it easier – but still not easy – to pass the Democratic legislative policy agenda. Keep in mind, moderate Senators from both parties (Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), and Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Mitt Romney (UT)) have gained importance as they continue to act more independently from their identified party.
Democratic control of the Senate will also mean that Biden is more likely to get all or most of the Cabinet appointments confirmed in shorter order.
So, what should we look for in a Democratic legislative policy agenda? When we spoke with senior Biden aides two weeks ago weeks ago they identified four pillars upon which Biden will build his agenda:
- Get the COVID virus under control;
- Get the economy up and running;
- Address racial injustice; and
- Address the climate change issue.
1. COVID RELIEF
As mentioned by President-elect Biden while campaigning in Georgia, gaining Democratic control of the Senate would mean another COVID relief measure is high on the to-do list. This will likely include an additional $1,400 per person to get to the $2,000 for individual recovery aid. It also means more money for speedier state and local vaccine distribution and more and better testing. The Biden team wants to get the virus under control by getting the vaccine distributed faster, which in turn will help get the economy back in shape. That means more jobs, which means more tax revenue to help with the final two pillars: racial injustice and climate change.
2. THE ECONOMY
Here are some of the legislative initiatives to expect:
- A comprehensive infrastructure bill. Biden’s campaign slogan was “Build Back Better,” and he hopes to create five million jobs through a series of large investments geared at benefiting different business areas. His proposed "Made in America" plan would pour $400 billion into procurement measures to boost domestic manufacturing as well as an additional $300 billion into research and development.
- An attempt to increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. The current federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour.
- To help pay for those initiatives, look for an attempt to amend the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent. The Biden team has proposed raising the corporate tax rate from the current 21 percent to somewhere around 27-29 percent and raising taxes on individuals earning over $400,000 per year. As members will recall, TCJA resulted in the drafting error preventing towable RV dealers from deducting their full floor plan interest from their taxes. When tax issues come up, we will continue to push for 100 percent exemption for interest paid on all RV dealer inventory.
3. RACIAL INJUSTICE
Biden has promised to create a national police oversight commission and invest in community policing measures. He would also push for legislation to reduce the use of mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent offenses and institute policies geared at lowering recidivism.
4. CLIMATE CHANGE
The U.S. will rejoin both the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization. Biden will reinstate many of the EPA regulations that Trump appointees relaxed. This means a return to the Obama era Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for motor vehicles. Likewise, initiatives around clean, renewable energy will be expanded.
As with every new administration, the RV industry, including dealers and campgrounds, will face new challenges. We will continue to strategically position ourselves to address our key topics.
As an industry, we remain well-positioned to be successful in a Biden administration. Moreover, as a driving force in the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), we have helped put outdoor recreation and the RV industry on the radar in Congress. Congress has embraced outdoor recreation because of its bipartisan nature—witness the passage and enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act last summer. This past fall we met with Senator Schumer to discuss outdoor recreation policy issues, and he is a big supporter. In summarizing a recent meeting with Biden Cabinet appointees, Schumer closed by mentioning the importance of outdoor recreation:
“ . . . Lastly, I was able to discuss a number of issues critical to my constituents in New York including the importance of the recreation economy and Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
2021 brings with it a new administration, new Congress, and new challenges for the RV industry. The RV Industry Association government affairs team will continue to ensure that we are building relationships with key stakeholders so we can best advocate on behalf of our great industry.
For more information or questions about the Association's approach to the new administration, contact the RV Industry Associations VP of Government Affairs Jay Landers at jlande[email protected], Director of Government Affairs Chris Bornemann at [email protected] or Senior Manager of Government Affairs Sam Rocci at [email protected]