What’s next for marine industry after status quo election?
As results rolled in Tuesday night, what had once been eyed as a transformative election turned out to be anything but.
Instead, voters left the state of Washington relatively unchanged, with a re-elected President Obama, a Democratic Senate and a Republican House.
If anecdotal evidence is any judge, it’s an election that disappointed most boat dealers and other small business owners.
“I fear we’re going to see the same-old, same-old we’ve seen for the last four years,” said Larry Innis, Washington representative for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. “I expect a continuation of the same policies and the same gridlock that we’ve seen.”
The most immediate issue will be the so-called “fiscal cliff” that forces massive government spending cuts January 1 under the 2011 debt ceiling deal, along with various tax increases. Economists have warned that allowing the cuts could push the United States into another recession.
Cuts that could affect the marine industry include reduced funding for the Coast Guard and the Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund. The expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts would result in increased estate taxes and other tax increases that would hurt boat dealers and their customers.
“I just want to believe they’re going to come up with a resolution,” Innis said. “If they don’t, it’s going to be a big impact on our economy.”
Beyond the sequestration process, we can probably expect the White House to make moves without Congress through executive orders and other actions, Innis said. An example is the recent move to raise fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 mpg for automobiles and 34.5 for pickup trucks by 2025. It’s an action that MRAA opposed, saying the cost to achieve those standards would be $3,000 a vehicle. That would make it more difficult for people to buy the vehicles they need to tow boats.
It’s likely we’ll also see the Obama administration pursue an increased percentage of ethanol going into fuels, which could wreak havoc on marine engines, Innis said.