We are fresh from our return from the Chamber’s D.C. fly-in last week. The group had a policy briefing, dinner with the Indiana delegation and successful meetings on Capitol Hill the following day.
To kick things off, the Chamber’s policy briefing covered trade, transportation funding and tax reform.
U.S. Assistant Trade Representative Ashley Jones of the White House Office of Trade briefed our group on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Per the Chamber’s federal position on the matter, we support the establishment of free trade agreements that create free and fair trade for the U.S. – including TPP. We support free trade initiatives because international trade touches all Indiana businesses – large and small – at some level. With Indiana being ranked in the top tiers in manufacturing, life sciences, agriculture, etc., trade is imperative to Hoosier businesses. Selling more manufactured Indiana goods and services around the world is a great way to create, maintain and grow Indiana jobs, help the business community and keep Indiana and the United States ahead of global competitors.
We know and understand that our entire membership is not 100% on board with TPP – and neither are the two major party presidential candidates or some in the Indiana delegation – but we are hopeful that some negotiations will allow for TPP to receive a congressional vote after the November election.
Dennis Faulkenburg, president of APPIAN (a transportation consulting and governmental affairs firm in Indianapolis) and chairman of the Chamber’s Infrastructure Committee, spoke to the group on transportation funding. He explained that it was important to thank the delegation for their support of the federal FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation), which passed last December. However, while the FAST Act provides funding through 2020, Congress did not enact a stable, long-term way to pay for highway infrastructure, instead transferring $70 billion from the General Fund to pay for the bill. As the Chamber has advocated before at the state level, it is imperative to have long-term sustainable funding for Indiana infrastructure. It is our hope that the next Congress will make this a priority.
Chamber President Kevin Brinegar gave the group an update on reforming the federal tax code. Kevin reminded everyone that a major overhaul is long overdue – as it has been nearly 30 years since the last major reform. Since that time, the code has been loaded up with hundreds – if not thousands – of new provisions. Overall, the current code is overly complex, unfair, anti-competitive and stifles both economic growth and job creation. Such a reform should include a lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35% (the highest in the world today) to 25% or lower; a lowering of the top personal income tax rate to 25% while reducing the number of brackets; elimination of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and estate tax; and adoption of a territorial system in which income earned overseas is not taxed twice. Kevin stressed the importance of letting our delegation know that we need to curb federal spending.
The group then enjoyed a dinner while meeting with and hearing from both Sen. Dan Coats and Sen. Joe Donnelly as well as most of our House members. Many spoke about the policies we highlighted earlier in the evening and about the 2016 election year and how historic it has become.
Thursday morning’s political briefing featured Jeff Brantley and Rob Engstrom, political experts from the Indiana Chamber and U.S. Chamber respectively. Both felt that in Indiana Republicans will likely keep their super majorities in the House and Senate. At the national level, Engstrom spoke about polling in the U.S. Senate race and in the 9th Congressional District and how he sees the momentum swinging to the Republicans, albeit noting still a tough road ahead.
The group then moved to meetings on Capitol Hill with the entire delegation or their staff representatives.
A special thank you to this year’s D.C. fly-in sponsors:
- Zimmer Biomet – dinner sponsor
- Allegion – breakfast sponsor
- Build Indiana Council – hospitality sponsor
- The Boeing Company, Duke Energy, Hartman Global IP Law, the Kroger Company, Old National Bank and Wabash Valley Power – event sponsors
“Zimmer Biomet is proud to be a longtime member of the Indiana Chamber and we were pleased to be a sponsor of this event, as we have been since 2012. … The event was an excellent opportunity for Zimmer Biomet and other Indiana businesses to tell our representatives and senators directly what we need to succeed.” – Stuart Kleopfer, Zimmer Biomet President, Americas