It’s an old axiom that businesses generally prefer a divided government with power shared by the two major political parties over one-party rule because they generally prefer stability over the unknown effects of unpredictable change.
After the Republicans’ Senate losses in the Georgia runoff elections last month, the White House, Senate and House of Representatives are now all in the hands of the Democratic Party. So, what regulations and laws are likely to be enacted in the coming year that will affect convenience store and fuel retailers?
Climate change is probably among the first issues that the Biden Administration and Dem Congress will address. Biden believes the Green New Deal is “a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” The U.S. will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, make “historic” investments in clean energy and climate research, and establish mechanisms to force companies to reach emissions targets no later than the end of his first term, with a goal to achieve a 100 percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050. I hear the collective groan from the petroleum industry and anyone who sells petroleum-based motor fuels.
Another major area of concern for retailers is on the labor front. On a recent NACS podcast, government affairs expert Jon Taets said: “I think we’ll see him [Biden] starting to roll back a lot of what the Trump Administration did over the last couple of years, such as the overtime rule and joint employer rule.” Biden has also said he would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and mandate paid family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks.
On taxation, Biden says he will raise taxes and undo Trump’s tax cuts of 2017. He wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, after Trump had reduced it to 21 percent, from the previously onerous 35 percent.
Considering how helpful social media technology giants were to his campaign, I don’t expect Biden to push any new restrictions on what content companies like Facebook and Twitter can control and censor on their platforms.
On a more positive note, expected investments in infrastructure and a more generous COVID-19 relief package for Americans will likely benefit convenience retailers.
Biden is likely to portray the past election as a sweeping mandate for change. More likely, it was a referendum on Trump. After the past four years, Americans wanted to turn the page. I think at least half the country would settle for gridlock at this time.