Making Our Voices Heard

Wednesday May 10, 2017 | Filed under:

Naturally, there are differing views concerning the current direction of our country, but regardless of your political persuasion, anyone walking the halls of Congress these days will agree it’s a beehive of activity.

I was privileged to witness our representatives in action along with approximately 70 volunteer lobbyists who participated in the recent Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). This was my fourth year on the Hill, and it was clear that 2017 could be a year of great significance for our industry.

For change to occur, you need to be at the table, making your voice heard. And that’s precisely the goal of the industry members who traveled to Washington, D.C. April 26 and 27 to visit legislators and talk to them first-hand about issues like free trade and import taxes – which could have a real impact on the way suppliers and distributors do business in coming years.

From left, ASI’s Chuck Machion with U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania and Bruce Korn, president of Zakback Inc. (asi/365556)From left, ASI’s Chuck Machion with U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans of
Pennsylvania and Bruce Korn, president of Zakback Inc. (asi/365556)

This year, one of our primary concerns was the border adjustment tax (BAT), which could impose a 20% tax on imports, raising the cost of promotional products manufactured overseas. Thankfully, after visiting a few Congressional offices, it quickly became apparent that the BAT is, at best, on life support – a feeling confirmed by President Trump’s recent tax outline, which failed to include a single mention of the BAT.

Another primary mission of our trip was to remind legislators of the power and vitality of the $22.9 billion promotional products industry and the corresponding 500,000+ North American jobs and contributions our members make to the overall economy.

In addition, we also told lawmakers about the many ways promotional products actually help “sell” key workplace programs like infant wellness, as well as manufacturing safety programs.

We also reinforced the need to retain the independent contractor status. Over the last few years, the government has tried to re-classify some workers as employees rather than independent contractors. We stressed to Congress that such a move could harm the many small businesses in our industry by removing the flexibility some employers need to survive.

The final issue we discussed with lawmakers concerned the tax

deductibility of advertising – an issue tracked for years by PPAI’s Government Relations Action Council (GRAC). The most recent proposal – not currently on the table on Capitol Hill – called for companies to only deduct 50% of the expenditure in year one, with the remaining cost amortized over the next five years. We made it clear that our industry opposed this measure. Stay tuned!

Of course, we couldn’t leave Washington without dropping off a few bags of promotional products, along with one-page position papers on issues of importance to us all. Everyone loved the imprinted notebooks and hand sanitizers we gave away, which provides the best possible proof of our industry’s effectiveness.

I’d like to personally thank my fellow PPAI L.E.A.D. volunteers, whose diligence and enthusiasm was evident from the planning stages through each Congressional visit. I’m certain everyone we met came away with a greater appreciation of our industry and the important role it plays in providing businesses with creative, cost-effective ways to reach their target audiences.

– Chuck Machion is ASI’s senior VP and senior counsel, and also serves his community as a member of Newtown Borough, PA Planning Commission