NFIB Weekly NewsLeading the News Details Of Trump’s Infrastructure Bill Still Unclear, But President Reiterating Commitment To Issue. (04/18/2017)
The AP (4/13) reported President Trump “says that last month’s bridge collapse near downtown Atlanta is a ‘painful reminder’ of the importance of strong infrastructure.” According to the AP, Trump “reiterated his commitment to enacting a major federal infrastructure spending program.”
In continuing coverage of the Trump Administration’s infrastructure plan, The Hill (4/12, Zanona) reported DJ Gribbin, special assistant to the president for infrastructure policy, said that the timeline for the package is still “up in the air.” According to Gribbin, the release depends on whether the plan moves forward as a standalone or is attached to another piece of legislation. “While Gribbin emphasized that they are still crafting the infrastructure measure,” the Hill added, “Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the package could be unveiled as soon as next month – a major shift from the administration’s initial goal” of a fall release.
March Small Business Optimism Remains Historically Strong. (04/11/2017)
The NFIB reported that its latest Small Business Economic Trends Report shows that small business optimism declined slightly in March, down 0.6 points to 104.7. However, this was still a historically-high level for the index. NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said, “Small business owners remain optimistic about the future of the economy and the direction of consumer confidence. We are encouraged by signs that optimism is translating into economic activity, such as capital investment and job creation.” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg added, “By historical standards, this is an excellent performance, with most of the components of the Index holding their gains. The increases in capital expenditure plans and actual earnings are signs of a healthier economy, and we expect job creation to pick up in future months.”
Gorsuch Confirmed To Supreme Court. (04/11/2017)
The Los Angeles Times (4/9, Savage) reported on the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court, noting that he “joins the Supreme Court just in time to cast potentially significant votes in cases that pit religious liberty against gay rights, test limits on funding for church schools and challenge California’s restrictions on carrying a concealed gun in public.”
The Washington Post (4/9, Wagner, Sullivan, O'Keefe) said Gorsuch’s ascension “marks a big win for [President] Trump and conservatives – both on and off Capitol Hill.” The President has so far “failed to advance much of the ambitious legislative agenda he said would happen quickly if he was elected,” but Gorsuch’s confirmation “broke this pattern.”
Adam Liptak of the New York Times (4/9, Subscription Publication) wrote that Gorsuch could conceivably be on the court until 2050 or beyond, and “actuarial realities suggest that President Trump will have additional chances to move the court to the right.”
AP Analysis: Trump “Keeping His Promises” To Undo Obama Policies. (04/04/2017)
The AP (4/3, Superville) writes that President Trump “is steadily plugging away at a major piece of his agenda: Undoing Obama.” Despite “staff shake-ups, blocked travel bans and the Russia cloud hanging overhead,” Trump “is keeping his promises in methodically overturning regulations and policies adopted when Barack Obama was president.” While the Affordable Care Act has not been repealed and replaced, Trump has reversed Obama actions on climate change, oil pipelines, and trade.
US GDP Slowed Less Than Previously Reported In Fourth Quarter. (04/04/2017)
Reuters (3/30) reported that US economic growth “slowed less than previously reported” in the fourth quarter – GDP increased “at a 2.1 percent annualized rate instead of the previously reported 1.9 percent pace, the Commerce Department said.” Economists polled by Reuters “had expected fourth-quarter GDP would be revised up to a 2.0 percent rate.” Growth in consumer spending was revised up to a 3.5 percent rate from the 3.0 percent rate previously reported. In addition, imports increased “at a 9.0 percent rate rather than the 8.5 percent pace reported last month.” USA Today (3/30, Davidson) reported business investment increased 0.9%, below the previous 1.3% estimate, while exports fell 4.5 percent, more than the prior 4 percent estimate.
US Corporate Profits Rose 22.3% In Fourth Quarter. In a separate report, the Commerce Department said that after-tax corporate profits increased 22.3 percent – totaling 9.2 percent of Q4 GDP – in the fourth quarter from the same time the year before, according to the Wall Street Journal (3/30, Leubsdorf, Subscription Publication). In total, profits rose 4.3 percent in 2016 after dropping 8.5 percent in 2015.
NFIB Hopes Trump Administration Will Continue Work On Obamacare Repeal. (03/28/2017)
The Wall Street Journal (3/24, Sparshott, Subscription Publication) reported that following the defeat of the American Health Care Act, business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business are hoping the President will use executive orders and take regulatory action to help reduce the burden of the Affordable Care Act. NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said Friday, “This is a dismal failure. NFIB is officially unamused, and we’re not going to let them off the hook.”
Lawmakers: Obamacare Harms Small Businesses. Writing in the Wall Street Journal (3/21, Subscription Publication), Reps. Sam Johnson and Tim Walberg highlighted what they said is Obamacare’s negative impact on small businesses and argued for its repeal. In addition, they made a case for their “Small Business Health Fairness Act,” which would enable small businesses to group together through association health plans to provide insurance for their employees and their families.
Business Climate Trump Confirms He Will Pursue Revival Of Ex-Im Bank. (04/18/2017)
Reuters (4/12, Gibson) reported that President Donald Trump said that he plans to fill two vacancies on the board of the Export-Import Bank. Trump revealed his intention in an interview (4/12) Wednesday with the Wall Street Journal following a meeting Tuesday with former Boeing CEO Jim McNerney. If the appointments overcome opposition from some Republicans and are confirmed by the Senate, they would return the five-member board to a quorum, enabling it to once again make loans of more than $10 million.
Latino Small Business Leader Notes Administration’s Encouraging Words For Small Businesses. (04/18/2017)
In an op-ed, Latino Coalition Chairman and former Small Business Administration Administrator Hector Barreto wrote in The Hill (4/12) that Vice President Pence recently told a meeting of The Latino Coalition: “The Trump administration will be the best friend American small businesses will ever have, because when small business is strong, the American economy is strong.” Barreto praised Pence’s message, saying, “Those simple words gave that group of business owners tremendous relief and confidence. They felt understood and appreciated. And their confidence has consequences – good ones.”
Government, Business Leaders Urge Tax Reform. (04/18/2017)
Fox Business (4/12) interviewed former Virginia Governor George Allen (R) on the need to pass comprehensive tax reform. Allen said America’s corporate tax system is the “worst tax in the world on businesses.” He said that American businesses will be disappointed if tax reform does not go through this year.
Writing for The Hill (4/11) in its “Pundits Blog,” United Technologies Corp President and CEO Gregory Hayes characterized the US tax code as “a relic of the past” that “makes U.S. companies uncompetitive around the world.” He added that we “cannot afford to squander the best chance we’ve had in decades to replace our outdated tax system,” and while rewriting the tax code “is an arduous task,” the House blueprint “proposed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is a strong starting point for comprehensive tax reform that advances good economic policy.”
Those Close To Yellen Say She Could Accept Another Term As Fed Chair If Offered. (04/18/2017)
Reuters (4/13, Schneider, Saphir) wrote that despite the many apparent differences between President Trump and Fed Chair Yellen, they “both want to get as many Americans working as possible.” Those close to Yellen say that Trump’s remark this week that he could reappoint Yellen is not really surprising now that Trump “has a vested interest in keeping markets and the economy on an even keel. And the same staff and colleagues say Yellen may well accept reappointment, despite Trump’s criticism of her during last year’s election campaign.”
White House Urges Congress To Rush Congressional Review Act Resolutions. (04/11/2017)
Politico (4/5, Guillén) reported that the White House is urging Congress to continue passing legislation to overturn regulations implemented in the final days of the Obama Administration before the deadlines of the Congressional Review Act arrive. Each resolution “must be passed within 60 legislative days after a rule is introduced,” which one source says is as early as April 28. (Others say the deadline will come in the second week of May.) President Trump has signed 11 such resolutions so far. White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short “said the White House hopes to receive ‘several more’ resolutions before the deadline passes.”
Yellen: Fed Easing Up On “The Gas Pedal.” (04/11/2017)
Bloomberg News (4/10, Condon, Smialek) reports Fed Chair Janet Yellen said at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan that while the Fed previously “had to press down on the gas pedal,” now it seeks to “give it some gas, but not so much that we’re pushing down hard on the accelerator.” Yellen predicted the economy will “continue to grow at a moderate pace” and that the economy will arrive “where we need to be” through gradual rate increases.
The New York Times (4/10, Appelbaum, Subscription Publication) says Yellen explained the Fed “was shifting its focus from stimulating the economy to keeping growth on an even keel.” She said the economy was “pretty healthy,” partly due to the central bank’s stimulus campaign, which it is moving to end. “Looking forward, I think the economy is going to continue to grow at a moderate pace,” Yellen said. “Our job is going to be to try to set monetary policy to sustain what we have achieved.”
The AP (4/10) reports Yellen said the Fed is close to achieving its goals on employment and inflation, and the piece notes her “remarks could be seen as providing support for gradual increases in interest rates.” The AP adds that, “while expressing satisfaction with how the economy is performing, Yellen did voice concerns about moves in Congress to limit the Fed’s independence.”
Small Business Marketing IBM Finds Brand Execs, Consumers Don’t See Eye To Eye On Digital Experiences. (04/18/2017)
Campaign US (4/11, Liffreing) reported that the IBM Institute for Business Value found a mismatch between brand executives and consumers about what makes a “digital experience” valuable to consumers. The institute surveyed some 600 executives and about 6,000 consumers and found that “70 percent of consumers said their branded digital interactions were disappointing,” while “the majority of participants said they weren’t impressed with virtual reality experiences used to discover products, digital displays in retail environments or voice command for customer service.” The survey also found that age is a big deal, with Millennials most excited about digital technologies (at 63 percent), while Gen Xers were less excited (at 48 percent), and Baby Boomers were the least excited (at 39 percent).
Facebook Offers More Ad Metrics, Notifications. (04/11/2017)
Advertising Age (4/6, Slefo) reported that Facebook announced a number of changes, including “a redesigned Delivery Insights dashboard” and notifications for marketers “when they might be maxing out a campaign on the same consumers,” or when there are “sudden fluctuations in results and cost per result.” Marketers also will be able to “get an estimate of their results from a campaign, depending on who they’re trying to reach, when the campaign will run and how much they’re spending on advertising.” Facebook plans more changes this year, the company said.
Sources Say Google Developing Its Own Flavor Of Header Bidding. (04/04/2017)
Advertising Age (3/27, Slefo) reported that its sources say Google is following Facebook’s lead on header bidding and “is moving to add dozens of technology partners and hundreds of publishers to the open beta of its header bidding alternative, called exchange bidding dynamic allocation, or EBDA.” That test is scheduled for May, sources said. Ad Age pointed out that “many in the ad tech industry feverishly support header bidding because it levels a playing field that’s long been dominated by Google.”
Pinterest Opens App-Install Ads To All Brands. (04/04/2017)
MediaPost’s Mobile Marketing Daily (3/28, Sullivan) reported Pinterest “began offing app-install ads to all brands” with its Promoted App Pins, which are “now available on the Ads Manager self-service platform as well as through its application programming interface (API).” Users who are pinning images will see mobile apps “mixed in with the content.” Site users cannot examine the app before they download it.
YouTube, Holding Companies Take Measures To Reassure Brands On Safety. (04/04/2017)
In ongoing coverage of YouTube’s environment for brand safety, Advertising Age (4/3, Slefo) reported that the company “is searching for ways out of an abrupt advertiser revolt” and will soon give marketers “more options at their disposal when advertising on YouTube.” The company “said that it’s working with third-party brand-safety vendors like DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science” as well, but it didn’t give a timeline or list of third-party partners.
In a separate report, Advertising Age (3/31, Sloane) reported that Omnicom gave details on its “safety program,” saying that it “could review hundreds of thousands of videos daily and ensure that they are appropriate for brands.” Ad Age said that “machines and in some cases people will review YouTube content and score it for brand safety before putting it on the whitelist.” The report points out that WPP earlier “said it would work with Open Slate, the video ad tech firm, to whitelist YouTube channels for its advertiser clients.”
Facebook Rolls Out New Round Of Snapchat-Like Features. (04/04/2017)
Facebook’s rollout of three new camera-centric features drew universal comparisons to Snapchat. In particular, reports cite similarities between a new feature called Facebook Stories, which allows users to create a visual montage that disappears from their timeline after 24 hours. The photos and videos can also be shared directly with one or more friends, and can be adorned with effects such as masks and frames.
The New York Times (3/28, Isaac, Subscription Publication) reported that Facebook had previously adopted stories-themed features for its Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp apps, while the Wall Street Journal (3/28, Seetharaman, Subscription Publication) reported that the updates are meant to make it easier to share rich visual content and reverse a decline in user posts. Another feature announced allows users to access the camera with a single swipe, taking it a step closer to Snapchat, which opens the camera as soon as the app is launched, the Journal reports.
Wages and Benefits Cities Push To Bar Employers From Using Wage History In Salary Negotiations. (04/18/2017)
The Wall Street Journal (4/15, Gee, Subscription Publication) reported that a bill awaiting New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature would prevent not only public-sector agencies but also private-sector companies from using an applicant’s wage history in salary negotiations. The Journal said the measure is putting pressure on companies to correct discrepancies in pay for women and minorities and follows similar efforts in Massachusetts and Philadelphia.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (4/3, Subscription Publication), former CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder argued that significant government-imposed minimum wage hikes threaten to reduce the availability of entry-level positions. Puzder said automation occurs at higher rates in places with a high minimum wage, noting that McDonald’s and Wendy’s increasingly are installing self-order kiosks, and CaliBurger has plans to introduce burger-flipping robots. Puzder cites claims by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Sen. Bernie Sanders about the importance of young people earning a paycheck. Meanwhile, a 2011 Employment Policies Institute report showed that the loss of entry-level jobs disproportionately impacted racial minorities.
Business Groups Ask Administration To Reject EEOC Rule. (04/04/2017)
USA Today (3/31, Gaudiano) reported on a coalition of 27 business groups urging “the Trump administration to kill an Obama-era initiative designed to reduce wage disparities by requiring big employers to report pay data based on race, gender and ethnicity.” The coalition on March 20 asked the Office of Management and Budget “to review and reject” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s “requirement to bolster federal investigations of possible pay discrimination and encourage employers to evaluate their own pay practices as women’s salaries continue to lag behind those of men.”
Labor Department: Hiring Rose In 11 US States Last Month. (03/28/2017)
The AP (3/24, Rugaber) reported the Labor Department announced “hiring picked up in 11 states last month compared with January and was mostly unchanged in the other 39, as stronger U.S. job gains benefited most of the country,” but “pockets of weakness remained,” notably in Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming. According to the AP, “All those states have either oil and gas or coal mining industries, or both, which have taken sharp hits from falling energy prices.”
Bills To Roll Back Obama-Era Regulations Sent To Trump For Signature. (03/28/2017)
The Washington Post (3/22, Kindy) reported that in a 50-48 party-line vote, the Senate approved the second of a pair of bills calling for the elimination of Obama-era OSHA rules. The approved measure “takes aim at a new rule that gave OSHA authority to issue citations and levy fines against companies with 10 or more employees if they failed to record illnesses, injuries and deaths that dated back as far as five years.” Both bills “now await President Trump’s signature. Administration officials said he plans to approve both measures.”
The Hill (3/22, Carney) reported in its “Floor Action” blog that Republicans “argue that the Labor Department’s rule is another example of the Obama administration overstepping its boundaries.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is quoted as saying, “It’s a regulation that purports to look out for workers’ best interests but actually does little to achieve that outcome.” Similarly, the Indianapolis Business Journal (3/22) reported that critics “said the Obama administration was trying to extend the penalty window to five years, describing the rule as ‘an unlawful power grab.’”
Labor Rules Delayed To Comply With Trump Moratorium. (03/21/2017)
The Hill (3/17, Devaney) reported on several new federal regulations. The Department of Labor (DOL) is “again delaying” the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new “workplace limits on exposure to beryllium” from March 21 to May 20.
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