A week after election day, it is pretty well acknowledged that former Vice President Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the country’s 46th president in January 2021.
President-elect Biden’s core political philosophies are very different on almost all subjects when compared to President Trump, and ACRA members likely will see new and perhaps unwelcome policy initiatives in 2021 that have been dormant for at least four years.
- Revisiting 2017 tax reform law — Biden has promised to increase federal taxes on the “rich” and “big corporations”; exact details to follow, but increased corporate tax rates and repeal of full expensing for personal property could be on the new tax reform menu;
- CO2 Controls and Vehicle Electrification — the current administration effectively rolled back Obama-era CO2 controls and vehicle CAFÉ standards; ACRA members should expect a Biden administration to pursue more stringent environmental standards in general and CO2 controls in particular and electrification of all motor vehicles; Vice President-Elect Harris is an original sponsor of the so-called “Green New Deal,” although Mr. Biden refused to endorse that proposal; Mr. Biden will feel substantial pressure from the left wing of his party to adopt many of their policy priorities;
- Privacy Legislation — Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris is from California and a big champion of that state’s privacy law – CCPA; expect a Biden administration to push privacy policies for individuals, either through legislation or, if Congress doesn’t act, through administrative actions at the FTC and DOJ; and,
- Economic Stimulus — President-Elect Biden has promised to work with the GOP in Congress on stimulus legislation to reverse the economic impact of the COVID pandemic, but his priorities may look much more like those of House Democrats in terms of aid to states and cities, direct payments to taxpayers, and extended unemployment benefits, instead of grants and low interest loans for businesses and liability protections. As of press time, control of the Senate has not been decided due to 2 run-off elections in Georgia, which will take place on 1/5/21.
The GOP candidates are favored in those run-offs but count on hundreds of millions of dollars being spent in the next seven weeks in Georgia to impact those races. If the GOP wins both seats, they will continue to control the U.S. Senate, will set the Senate agenda, and act as a counterweight to the Democrats in the White House and in control of the House.
The GOP stands to pick up several seats in the House, defying political prognosticators. That may give more power to moderates in both parties in the House, who will be in play to move legislation. The leaders of the congressional committees most of interest to ACRA members – tax, environmental, commerce, transportation – will not change much in 2021, although the ranking GOP position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is open and will be filled in January – likely either by Rep. Burgess (R-GA) or Rep. McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
Key “Lame Duck” Actions
The Senate is back in town this week and the House is scheduled to return next week. Funding for the federal government runs out on Dec. 11 and the president and Congress will need to agree on a package to keep the government running for perhaps six months – time to permit the new administration to get its legs and put new senior staff in place.
President-Elect Biden has indicated that a new COVID relief and economic stimulus package is a priority of his before the end of 2020 and undoubtedly, he will be working with House and Senate leaders on a “4.0” bill in November and December.
Details to follow – be assured that ACRA will continue to push our 4.0 policy priorities – including MAG relief, expansion of the PPP program and a cleaning tax credit – as these negotiations continue.
Gregory Scott is ACRA's public affairs representative.