With Trump and GOP Congress, job creators can go on offense
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With the advent of a GOP-led 115th Congress and presidency beginning in January, a clarion call should be sounded across America's business community on the urgent need for employers to ratchet up education of their employees on the top economic policy issues affecting American jobs and, with that education, urge them to become employee-advocates for those policies in the halls of Congress.

Months, and even days, before the Nov. 8 election, few experts were predicting both a Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE victory and retention of GOP majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate. Trump remained behind in most polls and numerous Senate seats held by incumbent Republicans were on the verge of turning blue.

As such, most predicted a Clinton White House and Democratic Senate facing off against a Republican House in the next Congress where, at best, the business community would find itself playing a combination of both offense and defense on various legislative proposals. Congressional Republicans traditionally, although not exclusively, tend to be aligned with the business community on many pro-jobs issues. As such, the community would have played offense in working with House Republicans to initially move much-needed tax reform, healthcare reform, domestic energy development and regulatory reform measures.

However, those measures would have faced severe opposition from a Democratic Senate and Clinton White House and, in a reverse legislative push, the community would have to muster significant strength to defend against Democratic legislation to increase taxes, expand ObamaCare and further curtail traditional energy development. Additionally, a Clinton administration would have been expected to continue to expand climate change and other regulatory policies that would place additional costs and burdens on U.S. job creators.

However, with Trump's stunning victory and retention of GOP majorities in both houses of Congress, the community is now in a position to play only offense on the critical pro-jobs issues facing the next Congress. From public infrastructure to immigration to healthcare and taxes, the American business community can play a huge part in the formation of these legislative proposals and their progress through the enactment process.

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But that doesn't mean cheerleading from the sidelines. It means getting actively engaged in the process at all levels.

The last time pro-jobs elected officials had such legislative strength was 10 years ago during the 109th Congress ending on Jan. 3, 2007. During that two-year session, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act, the Energy Policy Act, Transportation Equity Act, the Tax Relief and Health Act, and bills extended the research and development tax credit, New Market tax credit, expensing for brownfields remediation, and 15-year depreciation for leaseholds and restaurant properties.

Today's lackluster economic growth again highlights the need for sound, pro-growth policies from Washington and the hugely important role that America's employees can play in influencing positive, pro-growth outcomes.

BIPAC's 2016 national post-election survey of employees once again underscores the incredible impact employer-to-employee (E2E) communications has on employee-voters and employee-advocates. As with prior surveys, employers were again found to be their employees' most credible source of issue and election information — more than political parties, TV or the internet. Further, 63 percent of employees used the information communicated to learn more about those issues, and 83 percent used the information in deciding how to vote.

That is all resounding evidence why employers should not hesitate to undertake an objective and unbiased E2E communications program.

Moreover, while the results of the recent BIPAC survey attest to the importance of a strong E2E communications program at every company and association, recent Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) data also highlights the tremendous impact employee-constituents have on influencing legislative policy.

When congressional staff members were surveyed by the CMF in 2014 about the impact of constituents on decisions by members of Congress, it was found that an in-person visit from a an employee-constituent is almost six times more likely to have "a lot of positive influence" than an in-person visit by a lobbyist.

While lobbyists certainly do a necessary and professional job in communicating policy information to legislators, constituents who live, work and vote in a legislator's district/state have a much greater impact. Legislators care about what the folks who live in their districts or states think about issues affecting them every day. So a top-notch E2E program not only seeks to educate and inform employees about issues and elections in a nonpartisan fashion, but also seeks to encourage its employees to take action as citizen-advocates to help influence legislative decisions key to a growing economy.

The upcoming 115th Congress holds much promise for legislative policies that will again unleash America's job creators. But to see those polices enacted within the next two years, all hands must be on deck.

Not only do corporate and association management need to reconnect and vigorously reengage in the legislative process, but America's employees do, as well. For that is where the real power to advocate for legislative change lies — those men and women working hard every day in the communities the legislator represents. If they are knowledgeable and actively engage with their legislators, the legislators will listen to their every word and vote accordingly.

So now it's up to the employers to understand that simple citizen-legislator dynamic and move forward energetically with a strong E2E communications and engagement program.

Jim GerlachJames (Jim) GerlachFormer reps: Increase support to Ukraine to deter Russia With Trump and GOP Congress, job creators can go on offense Big names free to lobby in 2016 MORE is the president and CEO of BIPAC. He previously served Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District for 12 years, where he was a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Subcommittees on Health and Select Revenue.


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