The Politics of Change

By
Mitch Morrison, Vice President & Group Editor

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Four years ago, a riptide hit the nation. Democrats recaptured a House they had not enjoyed since the Gingrich revolution and seized the Senate, jarring what had become one-party rule and one-party arrogance.

The day after, a solemn President Bush acknowledged a new political reality and tempered a conservative agenda that had included privatizing social security and ignoring public concerns about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democratic leaders defined the day as the dawning of a new—and more progressive— era.

That era, reinforced two years ago with the election of Barack Obama, ended in seismic convulsions last month. Republicans gained more than 60 seats in the House and delivered painful body blows to the Democrat-held Senate. Is this another new era, or is our electorate simply frustrated, as they were four years ago, and have vented those frustrations on the party in charge?

There is no doubt that the Democrats drank from the same Kool-Aid that intoxicated the GOP a few years ago, as Nancy Pelosi and crew pursued a costly, interventionist agenda that further ballooned a deficit started by the previous administration.

So what can we expect from our split Congress over the next two years? Will political gridlock rule the day as presidential aspirants swell in number and both parties plot their next course?

And what about our industry? What do we want to see from the new Congress? For that, I reached out to some respected c-store veterans for their thoughts.

Fran Duskiewicz,

Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes:

“I am encouraged already by the fact that President Obama seems willing to discuss and compromise on some of the more odious elements of ObamaCare. He mentioned the 1099 requirement as being on the table and that’s a good thing. It creates useless and expensive record-keeping practices for all businesses; but in our case, with all of the trade partners we deal with, it is particularly painful. If it is gone ASAP as an olive branch, you will hear a loud cheer from all of us who really understand its negative implications. On a grander scale, I hope they repeal the entire package. They should not forget what got them elected. “Obviously, we do not want the tax rate raised on ‘higher-income’ individuals, most of whom are small businesses. Again, our industry is right in the cross hairs of this issue.”

Duskiewicz also called for moderation as it relates to the Americans with Disabilities Act and FDA: “If the new Congress is indeed in favor of less government, relaxing some of the new draconian requirements from these agencies upon us would seem to be in their wheelhouse.”

Mike Thornbrugh,

QuikTrip:

“If the Obama administration didn’t think they were adversarial and punitive to businesses, all they had to do was look at the amount of money poured in by the broader business community.

“For us at QuikTrip, one of our biggest concerns is within the federal agencies and departments. They appear to conduct business without legislative oversight; the only recourse from business is to enter into lengthy and expensive litigation, and nobody wants to do that.

“An example of that is the EPA’s airquality standards. If the lower standard goes into effect, it will have minimal benefits on the environment and yet a very negative impact very fast on our industry. You’ll see gas prices go up and pass on to the customer, and you’ll see new stores that won’t be built.

“In general, I think the majority of businesses want that harmony of economic growth and protecting the environment.

“People are fine with incremental change. It gives them time to get used to something. What they don’t like is fundamental change—and that’s what we’ve seen so far with the Obama administration.”  

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