BIG PICTURE: Obama’s Clipped Wings Might Ease Pressure On Industry

LCT Staff
Posted on February 23, 2011

ABOUT PHOTO: NLA lobbyist Louie Perry of Cornerstone Government Affairs in Washington, D.C. updated the NLA board of directors and the group's general membership meeting last week on industry legislative and regulatory matters. (Photo by Ron Rennells).

2011 INTERNATIONAL LCT SHOW: There’s still plenty of political drama for the chauffeured transportation industry, but this year’s annual NLA legislative update indicates some of the worst anti-business threats to the private sector are receding.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Along with an uptick in chauffeured transportation revenues this year comes a split political environment in Washington, D.C. that could stave off or diminish some of the worst anti-business policies of the last two years, board directors of the NATIONAL LIMOUSINE ASSOCIATION were told on Sunday, Feb. 13 before the 2011 International LCT Show.

A Republican-led House of Representatives and concerns about out of control deficits will help offset some of the wild spending and regulatory fervor that characterized the previous two years of an overwhelmingly Democratic-dominated Washington, D.C., according to a legislative update from NLA lobbyists Louie Perry and Gregory McDonald of CORNERSTONE GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS near Capitol Hill.

“The business climate got worse in the last few years, caused mainly by intrusive rulemaking, but the new Congress is slashing budgets and that will take away some of the rulemaking authority,” Perry told the directors. “[The federal government] will be more anemic and less able to mess around in your business.”

Cornerstone is making progress in lining up sponsors for a re-introduced RIDE Act amendment that would stymie unreasonable fees on chauffeured transportation providers at airports and transportation terminals that receive federal funds. Several key pieces of legislation that may move through Congress this year, such as the FAA Reauthorization Bill and/or the Highway bill, could carry the amendment.

However, Perry warned that federal budget cuts could pressure state and local governments to make up for any lost grants or revenue sharing with tax and fee increases of their own. “We’ll never completely fix the problem of airports getting into your pocket, but at least we can try to make them go through the D.O.T. to get into your pocket.”

Likewise, states will still try to enforce labor wage rules even if federal enforcement of independent contractor rules is reduced, Perry added.

Perry also pointed out that so far the newly-elected Republicans are just getting started in trying to roll back cumbersome rules and regulations, and that it may take some time.

On a brighter note, the Obama health care package appears certain to be changed with Republican and legal opposition mounting. Majority House Republicans formally repealed the measure earlier this month, but the Senate was not able to secure the votes to kill the measure. But Congress will act to seriously slow the funding and implementation of the mammoth bill, including de-funding of the dreaded 1099 enforcement, Perry said.

Overall, the political wild card for the economy in 2011 is the staggering deficit. Neither political party so far is serious about curbing entitlement spending, debt service, and defense costs, which make up more than four-fifths of the federal budget, Perry said.

Figures show the federal government now spends $3.83 trillion, with $2.57 trillion coming from actual federal revenues and $1.27 trillion from deficit spending. Even if all non-defense discretionary spending were eliminated in the federal budget, it would only get rid of half the annual deficit.

“So far, it’s more talk than results and it means next to nothing as far as really dealing with the deficit,” Perry said of the political posturing on Capitol Hill, "But they are trying, and that's a good sign."

The NLA will hold its annual Day On The Hill lobbying event May 3-4.

Information: NLA WEB SITE

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

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