The State of the Union (SOTU) address often has served to lay out a President’s policy priorities. On the eve of the 2018 address taking place on Jan. 30, the National Retail Federation (NRF) identified its legislative and regulatory “wish list” in a blog written by NRF SVP for Government Relations David French.
• Invest in infrastructure: Noting that retailers are among the nation’s largest shippers and that “decades of underinvestment has left much of the transportation system crumbling,” French called on President Trump and Congress to invest in ports, railroads and highways. President Trump has previously promised a $1 trillion plan, fueled by $200 billion in federal funding, intended to spur state, local and private sector investments, “and we hope to hear more details of how that plan will work,” said French.
• Modernize NAFTA but don’t throw it away: Saying the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should be “updated to reflect today’s business environment, including issues such as digital trade,” the NRF nevertheless believes the priority should be to “do no harm,” and that threats by the White House to pull out of the agreement altogether should be a non-starter. “We have been deeply concerned by Trump’s protectionist statements, including his threats over NAFTA and his rejection of the much-needed Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said French. “Imports support more than 16 million U.S. jobs, including nearly seven million in retail and restaurants alone, and trade goes far beyond retail merchandise,” he added.
• Redefine merit-based immigration: While the NRF agrees that immigration policies should be based on merit, the association calls for policymakers to “think broadly about what merit means,” said French. “Merit certainly includes the best and brightest regardless of national origin. But a willingness to work hard and a strong entrepreneurial spirit are also true-blue American values that should quality lower-skilled workers from the poorest parts of the world for inclusion in a merit-based system. At the end of the day, U.S. immigration policy must be guided by a principle of inclusion, not exclusion.”
• Make Obacamare more manageable: French called on Congress and the administration to make the Affordable Care Act easier for employers to handle: “If nothing else, the definition of ‘full-time’ when determining which workers must be provided with coverage should be restored to the widely accepted standard of 40 hours a week rather than the 30-hour threshold that has forced companies to cut back many workers’ hours,” said French.