Direction Jan Feb 2014 - (Page 8)

FROM THE President Washington Talk JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2014 I Direction 8 recently had lunch with a group of association CEOs representing industries ranging from aerospace and manufacturing to chain drugstores and land title professionals. I wish you could have been a fly on the wall as they candidly discussed how Washington is working for them (or not) and the impact the quagmire on Capitol Hill is having on the industries they represent. In summary, the group wasn't exactly upbeat about the country's economic and political future. There was talk about a "do-nothing Congress" and a hyperactive Federal Reserve. They discussed how demographic trends (particularly the decreasing number of working-age Americans) have been a factor in the great growth slowdown of the last 12 years. From our industry's perspective, I talked about how mobility has been in decline generally and that from 2002 to 2012, household moves in the United States dropped roughly 25-30 percent. They also talked about whether it made sense to be hopeful for the passage of any of those "really big" initiatives in the months ahead that are so vital to economic progress-like reforms to immigration, health care and the tax system. Some of these issues, we all agreed, would be better addressed in small steps. Sometimes the bite out of the apple is just too big, and we wind up choking. Given the inability of this Congress to reach consensus, it seems only practical that an incremental approach is the only way we can hope to see progress. For our industry, the good news was that everyone around the table seemed to believe that the business community had a lot to gain from immigration reform-something we may need to rely on as an important tool to help chip away at our driver shortage problem. This may be one of those reform initiatives that could be taken a piece at a time, such as expansion of the guest worker program that helps us with summer labor challenges. The head of the drugstore group talked about the role they were playing as "disruptive innovators," whereby so many drugstore chains are now becoming the face of neighborhood health care with the rise of minute clinics and the like. Disruptive innovators are companies that innovate in a way that helps to create a new market and value network that eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value. This made me think of the ways companies are innovating to cobble together a move, given the constraints on capital needed for traditional moving vans and the shortage of van operators. Are those using containers creating a new normal in our industry? Will they be seen one day as disruptive innovators? We talked about the effect of the budget cutbacks and the government shutdown on all of our industries. I heard the former head of the manufacturing association say to the aerospace association representative, "Your guys are dealing with real impacts from this budget impasse, aren't you?"-implying it wasn't relatively inconsequential, as it was for some. From our industry's perspective, we have felt it in more ways than most realize-from slowed home closings due to IRS salary verifiers being on leave to ongoing declines in GSA moves as agencies cut their relocation packages. Looking ahead, we all pondered what might be the path forward to jump-start our broken political system. Is it more decentralization? Incrementalism? A realistic and We are in good company with industries that want the best for this country and will continue to push for cooperation and coordination. compelling third-party presidential candidate? And we wondered about how Washington will find its way through the budget talks ahead and sequestration. One in our group suggested that the conferees may recommend kicking back sequestration for another two years to allow time for things to settle down and for the economic recovery to mature. That might just be true. So you're not alone out there. Even these veteran thought leaders in Washington are uncertain about where it's all headed, worrisome as that may be. We're not alone as an industry either. We are in good company with industries that want the best for this country and will continue to push for cooperation, coordination and an end to the nonsense that the competition for power can create. Linda Bauer Darr AMSA President and CEO

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Direction Jan Feb 2014

From the President
Industry News
Penske Trucks
News Briefs
In Memoriam
International Update
State Line
What's New at AMSA
Fall Board and Committee Reports
Safety Conference Wrap-up
Annual Conference Heads to San Diego
New Members
Office Max
Movers & Shakers
Ready to Grow
Going Green
Driving Down Fleet Costs With Solar Power
Regulatory Affairs
Advertisers' Index
On the Hill
Product Portfolio
Fast Facts

Direction Jan Feb 2014