From politics to policy: the presidential transition

Presidential Election ButtonsA week ago, the United States of America elected a new president. Now, President-Elect Trump’s team must begin the process of setting-up a governance structure that will involve staffing the White House and the Executive Office, making more than 4,000 appointments, getting up-to-speed on the more than 100 federal agencies, building a policy platform consistent with campaign promises, developing a budget, and designing a communication strategy with the American people, the media, and Congress; the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, it’s not only an enormously busy time for Trump, but it’s also a critically important time of transition as the world and the American people watch the new administration’s vision for the future unfold.

By American tradition and best practices, within one month of the election, Trump will select his Office of Management & Budget Director, his Press Secretary, his Presidential Personnel Director, his National Security Advisor, White House Counsel, and Directors of National Economic and Domestic Policy Councils. By Thanksgiving (about one week away), it is expected that he will have selected his Cabinet Advisors.

So, the bottom line is this: the pace will be quickening and we ought to know a lot more very soon. At the moment, however, we don’t know much, but we can, at least, flag some of the design industry-specific policy issues of particular interest or concern (depending on your political leanings) to our insureds and brokers. Our cue comes from “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter” (“the Contract”). The Contract provides some insight into the direction the administration plans to go. On his first day in office, January 20, 2017, the Contract asserts that Trump’s administration will pursue the following, among other items:

“…lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal”

“lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward”

“cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure”

Furthermore, within the first 100 days of the new administration, the Contract asserts that legislation will be introduced entitled “American Energy and Infrastructure Act” that:

“Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over ten years. It is revenue neutral.”

Other public policy issues relate to tax reform measures that could become a much higher priority under Trump. Any reductions in federal funding to the states will impact state and local government budgets which, in turn, may impact construction and infrastructure spending. There’s also a recent “less government” trend that may further expose professional licensing statutes to vulnerabilities (i.e., sunset). And, with the possibility of more infrastructure spending coming through the use of P3s, public capacity to manage these projects is an ever-present issue that could be further exacerbated without careful consideration.

Lastly, what’s to come of the clean energy transition that’s underway? It’s hard to tell. We know the incoming administration’s unequivocal stance and we also know that part of the plan (identified above) is to “lift restrictions” on the production of coal and other fossil fuels. It’s important to note, however, that US coal production peaked in 2008 so lifting restrictions will likely have little to no impact on coal production or use. Nonetheless, we’ll wait and see.

The clean energy/clean tech movement has a lot of independent momentum in the markets worldwide. How the administration navigates crucial global agreements and supporting policy mechanisms is a big question on everyone’s mind. One thing is for certain: if the US takes backwards steps, other countries like Australia, India, and China will gladly step up to lead in solar development and storage, which will be a missed opportunity for economic growth and jobs in the US.

Please stay tuned as we continue to blog on these and other public policy developments that will, positively and negatively, impact your business and your professional duty to protect public health and safety. We encourage you to follow our blog so that you’ll get the latest news as we post it.

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