December 2016: Government Affairs

Words: Dan Kamys

What Does 2017 Have in Store?

Stephen BorgBy Stephen Borg

I am typing this piece a mere four days before Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day. I am reflecting on what a crazy year 2016 has been (as the Chicago Cubs’ World Series victory parade rolls by on the television screen!) and what might be turning up as we kick off 2017. By the time this piece is published and you are reading it, we will know who is going to be sworn into the U.S. presidency on Jan. 20, 2017, which party will be in control of the U.S. Senate in the 115th Congress, and who might be the Speaker of the House should current Speaker Paul Ryan resign (as some experts in Washington, D.C., now expect). All three of these answers will play a crucial role in shaping 2017. While there remains a lot of uncertainty about what the future will hold in Washington, D.C., in early 2017, and while specific legislative language will of course be shaped by the party that holds the White House and the Senate, we expect both parties to try early in 2017 to push many issues that will impact you and your businesses. I wanted to take this time to briefly highlight three such issues that both parties have been discussing and which have been in the works for many months now.
  • Tax Reform — The issue of broad, bipartisan tax simplification and tax reform has been at the top of many people’s agenda for numerous years. Chatter from leaders of both parties has increased ever since 2014, when former Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a draft outline of a major tax overhaul. Both major-party presidential candidates have released reform plans, and this issue may be the most likely to see broad bipartisan agreement between the White House and Congress.
  • Infrastructure Investment — Touching on the issue above, many people, including Hillary Clinton, have discussed using revenue from tax reform efforts to set up an investment fund that would be used to update our nation’s roads, bridges, airports and other major infrastructure projects. Major players in both parties agree that our nation’s infrastructure is in dire need of upgrading and that the federal government must take steps to ensure that the states are receiving funds to invest in these infrastructure projects.
  • IT Security — Over the past two years, there have been numerous attempts in Congress to craft bipartisan legislation dealing with IT security. While these efforts ultimately fell apart due to the struggle to find a compromise between business interests and security interests, we fully expect IT security and the protection of connected systems and personal information will remain a very important issue in Washington, D.C., as a result of a series of many high-profile hacking incidents in both the private and public sectors in recent years.
While it remains to be seen which, if any, of the above issues is actually acted on starting in January, one thing I am sure of is this: if 2017 is anything like 2016, we are in for quite a wild ride!
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