The National Retail Federation welcomed some of the proposals presented by President Obama during his State of the Union address, saying they set the stage for a number of long-awaited debates in Congress.
“The President has opened the door for thorough and deliberate debate on a wide range of significant issues affecting the retail industry and, in turn, our nation’s economy,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “From taxes to education to cybersecurity, these are all topics that will ultimately have a profound impact on consumer behavior and businesses’ efforts to create jobs badly needed by millions of still-struggling Americans. As the nation’s largest private-sector employer, the retail industry looks forward to working with the White House and Congress in the months to come.
“Retailers are among the nation’s strongest advocates of comprehensive tax reform, and President Obama’s focus on tax policy shines a spotlight we hope will result in action on this long-delayed issue,” Shay added. “We urgently need to close loopholes that benefit only a few industries and use the tax revenue that would be saved to lower tax rates for all businesses, large and small, in order to restore the United States to its rightful position as the most competitive nation in the global marketplace.”
NRF supports Obama’s call for a uniform national data breach notification standard but cautioned that law enforcement might need more than 30 days to conduct an investigation before breaches are publicly revealed. Shay said Obama’s call for two years of free community college education is an opening bid in an important national conversation about educational investment that could benefit the retail sector by narrowing the skills gap for workers who increasingly use cutting-edge technology.
NRF had sent a letter to Obama asking him to use the State of the Union to seize the “opportunity for real progress” that exists now that November’s election results ended the partisan split between the House and Senate that has stalled passage of legislation in recent years.
In the letter, NRF urged Obama to seek action on tax reform, easing restrictions on international trade, immigration reform, cybersecurity, transportation infrastructure and amending the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide health insurance to “full-time” workers so it would apply to those working 40 hours a week rather than 30. NRF cited legislation on Internet sales tax collection, which passed the Senate but not the House in the last session of Congress, and patent-litigation reform, which passed the House but not the Senate, as examples of issues that could now have a fresh start.