Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Retail industry seeks to turn out votes

The National Retail Federation has been trying to get voters interested in the upcoming election and business issues from a retail-oriented point of view, with their "Retail Means Votes" campaign.

The non-partisan campaign offers voters information on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and where they stand on retail-related issues such as tax reform and health care reform. The website also has information on all of the Senate races, and where each candidate stands on the issues.

"With an election largely centered on the economy and jobs, it’s important to make sure America’s 3.6 million retailers and their employees know what’s at stake for the industry,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay , in a statement.

Although the website and NRF campaign don't specifically endorse any candidates, the issues highlighted offer some insight into retailer's major concerns. The industry group supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, fighting efforts to unionize employees, and lowering corporate tax rates.

Here are six questions the NRF suggests asking of candidates for office:

1. American employers pay the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Do you support efforts to reform the corporate tax code? What rate should corporations pay? Do you support the idea of individual rates being aligned with corporate tax rates?

2. Today’s sales tax system unfairly favors online retailers — who are not required to collect sales tax due on most sales — to the disadvantage of brick-and-mortar merchants. Do you support current Congressional efforts to level the playing field and allow states to collect the taxes they are owed from online purchases?

3. Do you support or oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act? Do you support repealing the employer mandate penalties, which could tax jobs regardless of a retailer’s profitability?

4. Do you believe that there should be an open and transparent process for how much banks and credit cards can charge retailers for processing a credit card payment?

5. The current median timeframe for union organizing elections after a union files a petition is 38 days. Recent changes imposed by the National Labor Relations Board would allow for union organizing elections to be held as little as 14 days after a union files a petition. Do you support these changes? Do you see the creation of micro-unions as presenting challenges to employers and employees, especially for small businesses?

6. What will you do and what policies will you support to help eliminate foreign and domestic tariffs and other trade barriers, particularly on highly-protected consumer products like clothing and shoes?

"These resources will equip retailers and their employees with a firm understanding of retail’s public policy priorities – be it combating micro-unions, fighting for sales tax fairness, or reducing swipe fees – and help put the election into context,” said Shay, in a statement.