Viewpoints

Legislative Compromises Would Help Retailers

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Here’s a prediction about this year’s elections: By the time November rolls around, you will be sick and tired of all the polls predicting how America will vote.

The uncertainty of many of this year’s contests — with a close presidential race and the Senate teetering between majority rule of either party — has food retailers on edge, and their anxiety is exacerbated by what’s at stake.

Will there be tax hikes, or tax relief? More government regulation, or less? Changes to the National Labor Relations Board, or to other key department posts?

As described in this story, retailers would very much like to know the answers to these questions, and more.

In fact, uncertainty has been the status quo for some time in Washington, as the fragility of the economy, fear of alienating voters and the increasingly polarized positions of elected leaders have all contributed to gridlock. This has stalled progress on several issues, including long-awaited tax reform.

“There have been 60 measures of the tax code that expired in 2011 and another 40 that are expiring in 2012, and a majority of those directly affect our members in their planning and in determining the future of their investment,” Tom Wenning, executive vice president, National Grocers Association, told SN.

Reports last week suggested that a compromise on some tax issues could be reached in the lame duck session after the election, but a better outcome would be a Congress that has more moderate legislators willing to engage in some give-and-take on a range of issues.

Opposing views need to be discussed, but then both sides need to take a step toward middle ground.

“With an increasing number of folks both on the far left and the far right, and a dwindling group in the middle, there have been a number of issues where it has been more challenging to come up with a compromise,” said Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs, Food Marketing Institute.

Read more: Choosing Sides in the 2012 Elections

In addition to tax reform, action had stalled as of late last week on passage of the Farm Bill, which includes such items of importance to food retailers as funding for food-assistance programs.

One senator, speaking about the lack of productivity in the current Congress, was quoted as saying, “If you kick the can down the road, you continue to further uncertainty, and inconsistency, and a lack of predictability.”

For food retailers, the can has been kicked far enough.

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David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Jon Springer

Jon Springer has been writing about food, food retailers and food retailing for more than 10 years, and is in his second tour of duty with Supermarket News. His prior experience includes covering the...
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