November 17, 2017
    Trump calls for continued efforts by associations to push for tax reform

    President Trump talks with Karen Kerrigan, CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, at a meeting this week with association executives about tax reform at the White House, while Tom Kuhn, CAE, CEO of Edison Electric Institute, listens intently. Kuhn is a TRENDS past Association Executive of the Year. (Screen capture of a C-Span feed.)

    President Trump met with several association executives at the White House on Oct. 31, where he thanked them for mobilizing their members and called for redoubled efforts for tax reform.

    The president met with 22 association executives and representatives (the full list first reported here) and told them, “All of you have done a tremendous job mobilizing your members, talking to the members of Congress, which is very important, and making a strong case for tax reform in the media. The media is not all fake, so therefore we can get a fair shake.”

    He called the plan "historic." The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee made the plan public on Nov. 2. (See "Immediate reaction: ASAE sees GOP tax cut plan as first step, while charity community more worried.")

    “There’s never been anything like this in the history of our country,” he said, adding the plan will improve the economy, and bring back jobs and companies to the U.S. “In fact, we’re going to be announcing one big one sometime shortly, a very big one coming back to the United States.”

    He told the executives, “Now is the time to redouble our efforts. Your country needs you now more than ever before. You are leaders of this country and certainly leaders on this subject and you know more about it than anybody. We need you to be united, committed, and proactive in order to overcome the forces fighting.”

    Trump called on three of the executives to comment at the press briefing.

    U.S. Chamber president Tom Donohue said, “The business community has been waiting a long time for an administration and the president and a willing Congress to do what we haven’t done for many decades. And we think we were lucky to arrange a budget, but we're going to have a better opportunity in the Senate.”

    National Association of Wholesale-Distributors president Dirk Van Dongen said reform was long overdue: “Obviously each of us [at the meeting] have to see the details, and there may be one thing or another that we'd like to see different. But the broader perspective is that for the good of the economy and, frankly, I think, for the good of our members, you have to support the process going forward.”

    Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council CEO Karen Kerrigan said, “This is really one of the most critical issues for small business. And they know if they get tax reform through, they're going to have more capital to put back into their businesses. They're going to invest more. They're going to provide higher wages, better benefits for their employees.

    These business owners and entrepreneurs are also leaders of the community back in their communities. And they do see the lack of dynamism, the lack of business dynamism. They don't see new business creation in their communities, and that's a really serious problem in this country.”

    But associations that weren’t represented at the meeting had different perspectives. National Federation of Independent Business CEO Juanita Duggan said her association, “is unable to support the House tax reform plan in its current form….This bill leaves too many small businesses behind. We are concerned that the pass-through provision does not help most small businesses.”

    National Association of Home Builders elected chairman Granger MacDonald said, “The House Republican tax reform plan abandons middle-class taxpayers in favor of high-income Americans and wealthy corporations. The bill eviscerates existing housing tax benefits by drastically reducing the number of home owners who can take advantage of mortgage interest and property tax incentives.”

    He noted that House leadership killed “a cost-effective plan proposed by NAHB that Ways and Means Committee leaders agreed to include in the legislation. It would provide a robust homeownership tax credit that would have helped up to 37 million additional home owners who do not currently itemize. Most of them are low- and moderate-income home owners....The bottom line: Congress is ignoring the needs of America’s working-class families and small businesses."

    Speaking for the National Restaurant Association, public affairs EVP Cicely Simpson said her association “applauds the tax reform legislation….Tax reform will help restaurants continue to be economic engines and job creators. We will continue to work with Congress as the negotiations regarding tax reform progress.”

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    Association TRENDS