NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry

SOTU Reaction

Posted on Feb 01, 2010 by John M Grau

State of the Union.

I didn’t know what it meant either. I kept seeing “SOTU” in e-mails from the Government Affairs folks. I finally figured it out.

This isn’t a commentary on the President’s speech, but some of my personal observations on the new legislative reality — post the Senate election in Massachusetts.  

Obviously, things have changed dramatically, whether political leaders will admit that or not.

I think there will still be some kind of health care legislation, but not the comprehensive package that was being brokered a couple weeks ago. The air has been let out of that balloon.

Likewise, don’t expect to see climate change legislation, immigration reform or the Employee Free Choice Act. You may hear talk about these, but in the end nothing will be enacted.

Much more will be focused on creating jobs, even if it isn’t in the form of a third stimulus package. The President is already floating proposals regarding small business loans and hiring incentives for small business. Note that these programs will be aimed at small businesses, which most see as the real engine of job growth. Plus, most people feel too much attention was focused on bailing out big banks, auto companies, and financial institutions.

There’s lots of talk about applying the “cash for clunkers” concept to other industries. A program called Home Star would offer rebates to homeowners for energy-conservation and improvement projects. Building Star would do the same thing for commercial buildings. One aspect of that program would encourage energy audits — something that NECA is hoping electrical contractors will be able to market as one of their services. Another energy-conservation rebate program will be directed at manufacturing.

Other good news for our industry: Programs to fund the creation of high-speed rail lines and the promotion of nuclear energy. I also think we’ll see some movement on pension funding relief legislation and getting a permanent fix for estate taxes.

Expect the Administration to increase its attacks on big business — especially banks, insurance companies and business lobbyists. 

One red herring is the concern being expressed over the recent Supreme Court decision allowing freer political spending by corporations and unions. It really doesn’t change that much and it won’t have much impact either. This doesn’t allow direct corporate contributions to candidates. Those still need to be personal contributions or from PACs. That’s why Justice Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true” when President Obama said that the decision overturned 100 years of legal precedent. It hasn’t. The decision nullifies a more current law which kept corporations and unions from financing political ads within a certain number of days before an election. I don’t think corporations are lining up to spend big bucks on political ads. 

BTW, NECA GA DIR Lake Coulson was in 202 for SOTU and sat in the balcony F2F with FLOTUS. KEWL. 


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NECA Transmissions is a collaborative effort from CEO John Grau and NECA staff to provide insight and feedback on key issues from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry.


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