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John Kirchner, Advocacy Importance


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2018 MACE Annual Conference presentation from John Kirchner of the US Chamber of Commerce.

This presentation will include the importance of advocacy for local chambers and provide useful tools for how chambers can engage in advocacy more effectively. In addition, it provides a federal policy briefing on key issues that are important to the business community across the region and country.

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John Kirchner, Advocacy Importance

  1. 1. Government Affairs Chamber Training Mid-America Chamber Executives
  2. 2. Midwest Regional Office One of 7 regional offices - Office of Congressional and Public Affairs Represents: MN, WI, IA, NE, ND, SD Team: John Kirchner, Executive Director Ethan Hellier, Manager
  3. 3. Why be involved in Government Affairs? Public policy affects your members Elected officials need to hear from you as the “voice of business” Your members can’t accomplish alone what they can together If you don’t, someone else will; and the #1 reason
  4. 4. Why be involved in Government Affairs? Fulfill your Mission Statement: Voice for business Promote economic growth and development Advocate for the business community
  5. 5. Why be involved in Government Affairs? “Business must learn the lesson long ago learned by labor and other self-interest groups. This lesson is that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated and that, when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination – without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.” -- Justice Lewis F. Powell, 1971, in a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, prior to his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court
  6. 6. Overcoming obstacles to advocacy Shattering the myths . . . “Our chamber isn’t political.” Neither are pro-business public policy statements. Issues are not partisan. “It will jeopardize our tax status.” Actually, it won’t. In1975, the tax code was changed to permit a 501(c)6 organization to administer and solicit funds for political activities. As a result, today many chambers are forming political action committees to endorse and support pro-business candidates.
  7. 7. Overcoming obstacles to advocacy “It’s not our job and our by-laws prohibit political activity.” Your by-laws can be changed to match your mission, or your mission statement should be changed to match you by-laws. “Someone might get mad; we could lose members.” It will make more people happy and it will allow you to recruit new, stronger members who share your chamber’s vision for creating a healthier business climate.
  8. 8. Four Steps to a Successful Government Affairs Program STEP 1: Identify the issues that matter most to your members and then develop a policy agenda STEP 2: Spread the word STEP 3: Mobilize the troops (Grassroots) STEP 4: Follow-up and hold decision makers accountable
  9. 9. STEP 1: Adopt Policy Establish a legislative or government affairs committee to identify issues of importance Those you should consider avoiding placing on your committee include: • Elected Officials: Mayors, city council members, city government employees • Political party leaders • School superintendent or other association leaders
  10. 10. STEP 1: Adopt Policy What do your members care about? Survey them and find out! Pick your battles carefully. Avoid controversial issues that may split your membership, especially at first. Use the resources provided by your state chamber and the U.S. Chamber. Specific policies vs. broad policy statements Politics vs. Policy
  11. 11. The All-purpose Agenda Sample policy statement: The Anywhere Chamber of Commerce believes that adequate and affordable health care is important to all citizens. To ensure our member companies can offer the best possible options to their employees, we encourage: Greater options for individuals to choose the coverage that best meets individual needs and circumstances. Efforts to make health care affordable to small businesses and the self employed. Medical malpractice and other legal reforms that will make health care more affordable and accessible.
  12. 12. STEP 2: Spread the Word Inform your Membership Create and publish your legislative agenda Include your agenda/adopted policies in your newsletter, email and social media communications As the issues move forward, update your members on the progress
  13. 13. STEP 2: Spread the Word Inform your Community Promote newspaper articles featuring local businesses that highlight your position Write letters to the editor, signed by your board chairman, that outlines your position(s) Schedule meetings with newspaper editorial boards and key volunteers (board chairman, legislative committee chairman, etc.) Look for unique ways to get your message out (Example: Partner with local media outlets to provide regular updates/activities)
  14. 14. STEP 2: Spread the Word Inform your Elected Officials Provide written policy statements to all appropriate elected officials Ask them to identify where they stand on your issues Hold meetings with your legislative committee and elected officials to discuss your issues Boldly explain why your issues are important to the health of the business community
  15. 15. STEP 2: Spread the Word Join/Form Coalitions Local issues: Partner with organizations who care about the same issue and share your position Regional issues: Look beyond your traditional borders to other chambers and associations who share your views Federal issues: Build on existing partnerships spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber and other national organizations
  16. 16. STEP 2: Spread the Word Social Media Facebook Twitter YouTube LinkedIn
  17. 17. STEP 2: Spread the Word
  18. 18. STEP 2: Spread the Word
  19. 19. STEP 3: Grassroots Network Develop a Grassroots Network - a collection of e- mails of members interested in public policy efforts including: Members of your government affairs committee Board members Major contributors Most influential chamber members
  20. 20. STEP 3: Grassroots Network Using the Network Provide issue updates on a regular basis Issue “Calls to Action” as necessary, include: An issue summary Contact information for elected officials Timetable for action Gather Intel or feedback from elected officials WARNING!! Try not to overuse your grassroots network
  21. 21. STEP 4: Follow-up and Accountability Follow-up on the outcome of an issue: Elected officials Express thanks or disappointment Develop a scorecard or voting record Membership Use this as an opportunity to recruit new members to your grassroots network
  22. 22. Summary Identify the issues important to your chamber and adopt policy statements Spread the word – Membership, Community, Elected Officials Develop and effectively use a grassroots network Follow-up
  23. 23. Take it to the next level Recognize that it is easier to pass your agenda if your elected officials share your point of view. Candidate support Candidate Events (Hob-Nobs, Meet & Greets, Forums) Candidate Endorsements / PACs Candidate Training Programs
  24. 24. THANK YOU John Kirchner, Executive Director, Midwest Region (612) 619-2048
  25. 25. Ethan Hellier Manager, Midwest Region 612-618-4968
  26. 26. 115th Congress • House: 238-192 GOP (5 vacancies) – 23 GOP’ers up in Clinton Districts – Retirements • Senate: 51-47 (2 inds.) – 10 Democrats up in Trump states (5 in Romney) – 51 GOP votes are enough to pass expedited budget legislation, but not enough to overcome filibusters Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm. -John F. Kennedy
  27. 27. The Trump Effect in 2018 • Entered office with the lowest approval ratings of any president-elect in the history of polling. • Republican leaders more willing to challenge him? – House GOP candidates as a whole ran ahead of Trump, winning the popular vote by 1.38 million votes, 49.1 % to 48%. – Senate: Trump ran behind the GOP candidate in popular-vote percentage in 23 states. – Overall, he ran 1.1% behind GOP Senate candidates, 0.2% behind in the two-party vote. – Most of the winning candidates ran ahead of Trump, especially in swing- state races, except NV and CO, and significantly behind in IN and MO.
  28. 28. Congressional Voting Patterns
  29. 29. So, where are we going? What has been accomplished?
  30. 30. Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck 2007 2017 41% 78%
  31. 31. The American Dream 2009 2016 Anyone who works hard has a fair chance to succeed and live a comfortable life. 53% 49% The economy mostly rewards the rich; it’s difficult for average people to get ahead. 43% 48%
  32. 32. Regulatory Reform • Since 1976, federal agencies have issued over 180,000 new regulations
  33. 33. Regulatory Reform
  34. 34. Regulatory Reform • Since 2009, the Obama Administration enacted 14 new major regulations annually, totaling about $12 billion each year. In comparison, in 2017, the Trump Administration only enacted 3 new regulations, while eliminating 67. This has resulted in a cost savings of $570.4 million.
  35. 35. Congressional Review Act • 14 successful Congressional Review Acts (used only once before).
  36. 36. Regulatory Accountability Act • Provides more Congressional oversight • Allows for earlier public participation in shaping most costly regulations • Requires agencies to choose lowest cost option • Allows for on-the-record administrative hearings for high-impact regulations • Places restrictions on agencies’ use of interim final regulations
  37. 37. Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act • Since 2008, the number of small business loans has declined by over 40%, even though the U.S. economy has grown almost 25% over the same period.
  38. 38. Policy & Advocacy • Engaged state and local chambers of commerce. • Educated and activated hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters. • Ran a seven-figure paid media campaign in targeted districts and states across the country, including through television, digital, and radio mediums. • Created • Organized hundreds of in-district tax events with leaders from local businesses. • Communicated feedback from the business community to the Senate and House Leadership and Committees, starting with our principles and continuing with guidance on specific provisions in the final conference report.
  39. 39. Disclaimer: Please note this is not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of TCJA, nor, in any way, should it be viewed as tax advice. We strongly urge you to consult with independent tax advisors. *Courtesy: Dewy, Cheetham & Howe
  40. 40. What’s in it for businesses? • Ends double taxation • Repatriation of nearly $4 trillion: 15.5% on cash locked abroad, 8% on physical assets
  41. 41. What’s in it for you?
  42. 42. What else?
  43. 43. Business Community Responds • Each quarter, 700 executives of U.S. middle market companies (revenues between $10 million and $1 billion annually) are polled to gain insight into how this part of the economy thinks and behaves. • The middle market is made up of over 200,000 businesses, 40 million workers, and contributes about $6.2 trillion to the U.S. economy. Nearly 70% of businesses surveyed said the economy has improved in the first quarter, and 73% expect improvement over the next six months. Additionally, 58% of businesses plan to increase hiring over the next 6 months. The MMBI rose 4.5 points to 136.7.
  44. 44. Reactions (Nation & World)wide • China, Germany, EU examining lowering rates • Companies already reinvesting: – Boeing, AT&T: Capital investments/training/charity – Comcast, Nationwide, Southwest: Bonuses/401ks – BofA, Wells Fargo, Fifth Third, US Bank: Raises
  45. 45. To Learn More, visit:
  46. 46. 2017 Health Care Reform Attempt • Strike One: House Failed to pass in March • Strike Two: Senate Failed to pass in August • Strike Three: Senate Failed to pass in September
  47. 47. Health Care Reform Round 2: Revitalize Current Market • Provide the funds necessary to cover required cost-sharing benefits that ensure lower income individuals have access to care. • Help states develop a financial backstop for exceedingly high insurance claims. This would limit premium increases that would be passed on to others. • Allow anyone to buy catastrophic coverage, creating more affordable, lower cost coverage options. • Estimated to reduce premiums by 40% and enable an additional 3.2 million individuals to get coverage thanks to lower costs.
  48. 48. Other priorities before 2018 Election? • Infrastructure • Trade/NAFTA • Immigration/DACA
  49. 49. Infrastructure • A modest increase in the federal fuel fee • Expand financing options, like public/private partnerships, for local communities • Streamline the permitting process to get projects off the ground • Develop a skilled workforce to build these projects.
  50. 50. International Trade • KORUS • NAFTA • Tariffs
  51. 51. Immigration • Green card reform and implementation of temporary worker programs for high-skilled and lesser-skilled workers including those in the agriculture industry. • A national employment verification system that is workable for employers. • Improved enforcement to protect our borders while facilitating the flow of trade and travel. • Tough but fair process for the 11 million undocumented people who are living in our country today to earn a legal status.
  52. 52. Thank You For Being Involved! Questions?