Industry: What we want from Congress

Most businesses define themselves by their industry. Grant Thornton LLP industry leaders weighed in on what would be on their wish list from the 115th Congress.

Question: If you could ask Congress to do one thing that would help the future of your industry, what would it be? Jeffrey FrenchJeff French, National Managing Partner, Consumer and Industrial Products (Manufacturing)
Passing legislation to eliminate unnecessary or overbearing regulation. They could simplify EPA, OSHA, wage and health care regulations, and others. Government’s continued expansion through agency rules has been a real hindrance to manufacturing growth.

Anne McGeorge, National Managing Partner, Health Care
On behalf of our hospital clients, I’d ask for full federal funding for Medicaid expansion, with all states participating, so there’d be a lot fewer uninsured people and hospitals would get paid for their services. Speaking for our insurance company clients, I’d tell Congress, “Repeal the Affordable Care Act’s insurance excise tax.” It’s a financial burden for smaller insurance companies that’s forcing many out of business. For our pharmaceutical clients, I would ask that the corporate income tax be lowered.

Michael PatanellaMichael Patanella, Sector Leader, U.S. Asset Management
I’d ask Congress that before it makes changes to Dodd-Frank or the Volcker Rule, it take a good look at what has worked versus what has been an undue focus on ultimate owners or shareholders of asset management companies. Going forward, Congress should be a little smarter and not paint with so broad a brush. Asset management companies, hedge funds and private equity companies have changed their business models, and updated the types of individuals they employ and the service providers they use, which has had a good, positive impact. We may not need more regulation.

Kevin SchroederKevin Schroeder, National Managing Partner, Energy
To actually work with the industry to define a U.S. energy policy and a strategy that would allow us to take advantage of the abundance of our natural resources. This would also mean being mindful of environmental and climate considerations, including investing in alternative sources and renewable energy.

Nigel SmithNigel Smith, National Managing Principal, Financial Services
Try to avoid any further major changes in the regulatory regime. Significant extra regulations have been put in place post-financial crisis, such as Dodd-Frank, that are just starting to bed down and operate as “business as usual.” We need some continuity on that, and maybe some fine-tuning, but what our industry doesn’t need is another round of wholesale change.

Steven PerkinsSteve Perkins, National Managing Partner, Technology Industry Practice
I’d ask for policies and positions that encourage growth and innovation, such as next-generation broadband and R&D credits. I would advocate to support high-skill immigration that augments our extraordinary U.S. workforce, and I would look for support for robust intellectual property laws. And as importantly, I’d ask for reformed tax law to level the international playing field and spark innovation. Anything that frees up innovation and promotes R&D fuels the U.S. technology growth engine. Lastly, to keep our U.S. tech workforce competitive with the world, we need Congress to increase funding and support for STEM.

Policy decisions and regulations of the next two to four years will determine the environment for business; check out Top 10 Takeaways in 2016 Election Results.

How will the new administration and 115th Congress affect the economic environment? See Predicting the realities of a Trump presidency: An Oxford Economics analysis; Gregory Daco, head of U.S. macroeconomics at Oxford Economics, provides an assessment of economic and political affects, with illustrations based on Oxford Economics’ models and analysis.

For a perspective on the potential for significant tax changes, replay the Post-election tax legislative outlook webcast.