Does Political Action Make a Difference?

On December 1 and 2, 2015, seven representatives from member companies of the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) flew into Washington, DC to meet with congressional representatives, senators and committee staff to discuss the impact that inaction on the part of the U.S. Congress has had on the industry.

U.S. Congress

Harry Eighmy–American Turned Products, Ed Engle–RIMA Manufacturing Company, Rich and Cathy Hoster–Smith and Richardson, Inc., Todd Kriegel–Global Precision Parts, Inc., and Mike and Ryan Reader–Precision Plus,  were joined by PMPA personnel Bernie Nagle and Miles Free, along with Omar Nashashibi and John Guzik from The Franklin Partnership.

Specifically, PMPA and its members were asking to make permanent key tax provisions, which Congress had allowed to expire. These provisions included Bonus Depreciation, Section 179 Equipment Expensing and the R&D Tax Credit. Small manufacturers use these tax provisions to purchase equipment, hire new workers, and develop the latest technologies. On December 3, 2015, and on behalf of the industry, PMPA member Todd Kriegel, CEO of Global Precision Parts (GPP), testified on the subject before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access.

For the past several years, these temporary provisions, expired at the end of one year, and would not be retroactively extended until almost the end of the following year, making it very hard for business to plan their expenditures for new equipment and technology, or workforce expansion. For a typical precision contract manufacturer, generating 12 to 14 million dollars in sales, with small margins and an average of sixty employees, not having these provisions in place could translate into nearly $600,000 of funds unavailable for reinvesting back into the company.

Year after year, PMPA and its members have lobbied to make these temporary provisions permanent. When it comes to changing legislation, often-asked questions are, “Does political action make a difference? Why get involved?”

Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus shares his thoughts:

For many years, I was the silent one, sitting on the sidelines and letting others speak in my absence.  I had two defining events that changed my opinion of non-action.  The first one was listening to a conference speaker whose message boiled down to, “If you don’t like the way something is working, either get involved to help make it better, or be quiet.”  Point being, if you are not prepared to help, all you are doing is whining and no one likes a whiner.  The second event was the Great Recession of 2008/2009.  This event solidified my thoughts, as I recalled my grandparents speaking about lessons learned from the Great Depression.

If you have never been to Washington, DC to tour and meet with your elected officials, I would strongly encourage you to do so.  So many have sacrificed so much so that we could have the freedoms we enjoy. Let us honor them through active participation in the process our Founding Fathers have gifted us.

On Tuesday December 1, 2015, I traveled to Washington D.C. with my 18-year-old son, Ryan.  The purpose of our visit was to continue the conversation with our elected officials to ensure they understand our point regarding the implications of legislation and regulations.

We met with Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Tammy Duckworth’s staff (IL-08), Sean Duffy (WI-07),  Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson (WI),  and the newly elected Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (WI-01).  Conversations focused on comprehensive tax reform and environmental regulations that are driving business overseas, along with jobs and tax revenue, as well as workforce development efforts for skilled trades, including supporting training programs for returning Servicemen and women.

The overall purpose of the trip and the meetings with legislators, after all, was to discuss what we can all do together to strengthen our economy and promote domestic manufacturing, through honest and respectful dialog, rather than divisive rhetoric and polarized public debates.

I hoped for my son to see firsthand how regardless differences in political opinions, we can work together for the good of all.

The trip to Washington, DC had a great impact on Ryan Reader, who as a member of our future generation had this to say:

First off, I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to go to Washington, DC with my dad, and meet so many of our nation’s elected representatives, such as Tammy Duckworth’s staff, Sean Duffy, Ron Johnson, and even newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan. It was very exciting to be able to see our public officials doing the important work behind the scenes that affects so many people.

During our meetings, we discussed ways that we could improve our nation’s economy, specifically on policy that will promote and strengthen manufacturing around the country for companies like those in the PMPA. We discussed topics such as the current tax code, the growing shortage of skilled machinists in the country, harsh EPA regulations that are hurting business, and even a program to employ former members of our nation’s military in manufacturing careers.

I am a firm believer in that it is our duty as citizens of our representative democracy to be active in the process and well educated on problems that our country faces. I believe this even more so after the trip I have taken.

We are so lucky to be able to choose our leaders in government; yet, so many people don’t even take part in the voting process. It is important that people care about politics and educate themselves on the problems, since so many people across the country seem to make decisions on issues they don’t fully understand.

On December 18, 2015, after both the House and Senate passed the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015,” President Obama signed into law tax extenders legislation for 50 expired provisions of the tax code, including extending and making permanent Section 179 Equipment Expensing and the R&D Tax Credit , as well as extending Bonus Depreciation through 2019.