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Enacting infrastructure legislation: How complicated can this be?

Monday, March 19, 2018 - 07:00
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Now that Congress has tackled and achieved tax reform legislation, many in Washington, including the President, are calling for infrastructure legislation to be the next big-ticket item for Congress to tackle.

Enacting or talking about congressional action that would increase funding for infrastructure projects such as better roads, improved ports and a safer and more efficient power grid, is great for politicians because it creates jobs and improves the quality of life. Further, improving the nation’s infrastructure is a bi-partisan subject and could (I want to emphasize the word “could”) bring the two sides of the aisle together to support a bill that provides many benefits to the economy and to the American people.

For the aftermarket, investing in infrastructure would have many benefits. Number one, we are an industry that depends on being able to move goods from point A to point B, and anything that reduces bottlenecks and helps make that process more efficient, is going to benefit the industry’s bottom line. Further, international trade, both imports and exports are critical to the success of many companies in the industry.

Clearly, improving U.S. ports could be extremely beneficial to making auto care companies more profitable. Finally, if consumers can drive more, that means more auto parts are being sold, which of course benefits everyone’s bottom line. Yes, I have been told that pot holes are good for business, but in general, the industry benefits the more people can get on the road and travel (don’t forget, we will always have weather extremes to drive business).

So, this seems like a no brainer, right? Let’s get Congress to work on a bill that not only will generate political good will, create jobs and improve the business for many U.S. companies. Wait, there is one small detail: How do we pay for it!

Nowhere has this become more apparent than with our roads. Currently, federal funding for road construction comes out of the highway trust fund, which is paid for by gasoline taxes. However, the tax has not been increased since 1993, and it has lost 40 percent of its purchasing power due to inflation.

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