A perennial balance

The new administration, as all others, will be a balance of positives and negatives for the roofing industry

"A little bit of good and a little bit of bad" is how I described the recent general election to a local television station in Green Bay, Wis. As I see it, all administrations are a mix of good and bad, and the new administration will bring the same things.

But before we look at what’s coming, let’s take a look at what happened. Former Vice President Joe Biden narrowly defeated President Donald Trump for the presidency. At press time, Biden had been declared the winner by the media; but the counting continues, and some recounts are possible. But though the Republican incumbent president was defeated, the Republican party overall had a pretty good election. It gained seats in the House of Representatives and is likely to hold a majority in the Senate. Throughout the U.S., Republicans also picked up seats in state assemblies and senates.

This election, more than any I can remember, was more about personality than policy. Voters rejected President Trump but apparently wanted more of his party’s policy (or possibly wanted to avoid the more extreme positions of some on the left). So though they disliked Trump, they also disliked the rhetoric and more progressive, liberal tone taken by some members of Congress.

Something similar occurred in 2016 when Republicans rejected the status quo of their party, which then drove Trump into the White House. They shifted from their traditionally conservative positions to the more extreme populist and nationalist positions held by Trump. In 2016, Republicans were, at least for a while, able to pull it off while Democrats in 2020 were not. Overall, it seems the American people are desiring less populism and divisiveness, which populism inevitably brings. So now what?

I expect President-elect Biden to use executive orders to dismantle some of President Trump’s executive orders much in the same way President Trump did to former President Obama. The Washington Post reports part of this will include reentering the Paris Climate Accord and rejoining the World Health Organization. Biden also is likely to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status, the programs that allow “dreamers” and immigrants with temporary legal status to stay in the U.S. He also will cancel some of the travel restrictions from the Middle East and expand asylum opportunities for those seeking to flee oppressive regimes. It would, of course, be preferable for Congress to pass laws rather than presidents writing them into existence.

But it is important to note if Republicans hold the Senate, they will restrain Biden’s agenda a bit. Tax reform passed in 2017 is here to stay at least for a while. More stimulus to address the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to pass now that it is no longer a campaign issue. Infrastructure will be put back on the table.

I also expect a more robust discussion about immigration and hope both parties will recognize economic growth and prosperity are connected to workers. Given the demographics the U.S. is facing, immigration reform is a necessary part of the solution.

Here is where NRCA and you come into the picture. During the past three years, the roofing industry (led by NRCA’s efforts) has gone to Washington, D.C., to better inform members of Congress what the industry’s needs are, and Congress finally is getting to know us. Now, with many new members of Congress starting terms in January 2021, Roofing Day in D.C., which will take place March 23-24, 2021, becomes even more important.

The roofing industry is a vibrant, essential part of the U.S. economy. Your work matters, and the government needs to understand how its actions can affect you. The most effective way for the industry to move legislation through Congress is by getting to know your senators and representatives, so I encourage you to participate in Roofing Day in D.C. 2021. We are finalizing the event details, and if we are unable to hold it as an in-person event, it will be a virtual event. Mark your calendar!

NRCA will continue to work hard to leverage its relationships to ensure the industry ends up with at least a bit more good in the upcoming administration.

Reid Ribble is NRCA's CEO.

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