After enduring one of the longest and most grueling election cycles in recent memory — an election cycle defined by some of the most negative rhetoric, half-truths, merciless attacks, and flat-out lies ever told by major-party candidates (on both sides) — we now have a new president-elect. And while President-elect Trump’s victory has stirred controversy and sparked protests nationwide, there’s no denying that we now have a better idea, for better or worse, of what to expect for the next several years.
Trump’s 100-day plan
In October, Trump released “Donald Trump’s Contract With The American Voter,” which outlines his “100-day action plan to ‘Make America Great Again.’” Several items in that plan have the potential to directly and swiftly affect small business owners (including industry contractors and distributors), manufacturers, and the individuals these businesses employ if Trump is successful.
In his “six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, District of Columbia,” Trump proposes, among other things, “a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.” Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Labor, and many more federal regulatory bodies churned out new and revised regulations at record pace. So, this part of Trump’s plan has a potentially significant impact.
For example, specific to the plumbing and HVACR industries, the DOE has published rules regulating everything from pumps and motors to boilers and water heaters over the past few years, and the EPA has been cracking down on or phasing out many hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. OSHA also recently revised its confined spaces rule and momentarily sent contractors who work in these confined spaces into a panic (OSHA has since clarified the rule to state that most spaces contractors work within do not count as permit-required confined spaces and, therefore, do not require additional precautions).
Additionally, DOL’s new overtime rule — which would raise the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from $455 per week, or $23,660 per year, to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year ― is still set to go into effect on Dec. 1 (at the time this issue went to print, anyway). This means that any employees who do not meet the salary threshold will have to be paid time and a half for anything over 40 hours. The idea that Trump could stop or at the very least slow down the pace at which the federal government is releasing new regulations like these is understandably appealing to many members of this industry.
But that’s not all. Trump’s “Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act” promises to grow the economy and create more than 25 million jobs “through massive tax reduction and simplification in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy.” The biggest tax reductions would be for the middle class, according to the document, which claims “a middle-class family with two children will get a 35 percent tax cut.” He also proposes reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, “and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified.”
His next promise is particularly applicable to small business owners: “The business [tax] rate will be lowered from 35 percent to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.” Trump also pledges to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and replace it with health savings accounts and the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines — a move that could significantly decrease the burden that rising health care premiums are placing on small- to medium-sized small businesses (which includes many, if not most, contractors and distributors).
These are obviously some ambitious goals, and many of them seem all but impossible to achieve. Whether Trump can follow through with all or even some of his pre-election promises remains to be seen, and he has already faced criticism for some of his White House appointments. But with the power of a Republican-controlled House and Senate backing him, chances are that the next several years will introduce changes at the federal level that are more friendly to small businesses than in recent years.