NACM Tackles Issues Before Congress During Advocacy Day 2007
NACM Members and staff had an opportunity to plead their positions on important issues affecting the business credit community before members of Congress during Advocacy Day on March 20 in Washington, D.C. By visiting the offices of members of Congress, Advocacy Day participants were able to make their case on issues, in person before members of Congress and their staffers. The yearly event is one of the best ways that NACM and its members can make their voices heard on Capitol Hill as Congress discusses, debates and votes on issues that have a profound effect on how business credit is conducted in the United States and internationally.
Advocacy Day participants met at the Holiday Inn Capitol to discuss strategy and other topics before beginning the trek to the House and Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill. After an introduction by NACM Chairman Mark Tuniewicz, CCE, NACM Washington Representative Jim Wise, Managing Partner, Pace, LLP, gave some advice on how to approach members of Congress and their staffers.
Wise pointed out the common misconceptions in Congress about NACM and business credit. He said that some assume NACM represents credit unions and credit cards. ‚ÄúThe current business and trade credit extended daily is $40 billion,‚ÄĚ Wise said. ‚ÄúIt is the lubricant of our economy.‚ÄĚ Wise mentioned that one of the most important things participants could do was explain the difference between consumer and business credit. ‚ÄúIf you do that, and nothing more than that, we win.‚ÄĚ
On the issue of data security facing the 110th Congress, Wise noted that it is important to explain NACM‚Äôs position that enacting measures to secure consumer data should be done in a way that doesn‚Äôt inhibit the free flow of business credit information. ‚ÄúWhere the rub is, is where you have to use consumer information as in personal guarantees,‚ÄĚ Wise said. He pointed out that unlike consumer credit where consumers initiate a request for a credit card or other form of credit, ‚Äúwe do not initiate this activity. Somebody has come to us rather than us taking it to the consumer.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúCongress has to be mindful of not sweeping us into the provisions aimed at protecting consumer data,‚ÄĚ Wise said.
Another issue NACM has taken a stand on is the newly enacted 3% withholding tax on many government contracts for goods and services. NACM has gone on record opposing this tax‚ÄĒscheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2011, unless moved up by Congress‚ÄĒbecause it is onerous on the cash flow of many businesses, how it is collected will be expensive and how the IRS accounts for it has not been worked out. Wise said that under the ‚Äúpaygo‚ÄĚ (pay as you go) rules that Congress is now operating under, any measure that reduces tax revenues must be accompanied by a revenue or expense offset that makes up the loss of revenue. ‚ÄúIn order to now get this out of the law you‚Äôve got to have an offset, and that‚Äôs the pickle we‚Äôre in,‚ÄĚ Wise said. He said the revenue that the 3% withholding tax is estimated to generate is about $300 billion. NACM President Robin Schauseil, CAE said that, should a government contractor have a federal tax liability of less than the 3% withholding rate, there is no mechanism yet by the IRS to refund that money. ‚ÄúIt has a disproportional impact on small and medium-size businesses,‚ÄĚ Schauseil added. ‚ÄúIt is a tax provision that was never subject to any oversight or hearing,‚ÄĚ Wise said.
After the briefing, NACM advocates from all over the country took to the Hill to meet with their respective representatives. Attendees came from every corner of the country, including contingents from Washington State and Texas. Some advocates had attended the event before, while for others, this was their first. ‚ÄúThis is my fourth time,‚ÄĚ said Dottie Rath, President and COO of NACM Southwest. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm just convinced that it‚Äôs such a good thing to do.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe want to make sure [business credit] doesn‚Äôt get swept up in other legislation,‚ÄĚ said James Sczudlo, CCE, Credit Manager at Schlumberger Technology Corp. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been coming here since 1989,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a great time.‚ÄĚ
2007 Legislative Advocacy Day Highlights
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