Important Themes for 2016
Monday, January 11, 2016
WIPP Works in Washington: Important Themes for 2016
By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations
As the Presidential election year of 2016 gets underway, everyone in the media is making predictions on winners and losers and issues that will dominate the political campaign season. Although tempting, our government relations team in Washington is resisting the urge to mirror this model and focusing instead on important themes we expect to see in the Nation’s Capital in 2016.
Budget and Appropriations Will Lead the Charge
After years of being in the category of uncertainty, last year Congress reversed the trend by announcing a two-year budget deal. This bipartisan budget agreement set overall spending limits for FY2016 and FY2017. Not only did this action get agencies spending, the private sector started making investments as well. Not to mention optimism among government contractors who thrive when government programs have a predictable life cycle.
The good news for women-owned government contractors is that the FY16 budget funded small business lending and increased training dollars through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Employers See Good and Bad In Obamacare
A new study, published in the journal Health Affairs last week, found that employers have not reduced workers’ hours to avoid health insurance costs. This was a huge worry after the ACA passed and thankfully for workers, according to the study, it did not come to fruition.
Although the first thing the House of Representatives did was repeal the Affordable Care Act, pure and simple, it is not going away. Small employers have been very practical when it comes to providing health insurance for their employees—who can provide it for the best cost. If the numbers are not there, they simply haven’t provided the coverage. But unlike before the ACA, individuals have a better place to shop for insurance outside of their employer to the tune of 11 million.
Congress should be looking at practical changes to the ACA, such as reinstating Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) and counting a full time position as 40 hours. In 2016, both sides of the political spectrum both for or against the ACA should work on making changes that will help small businesses provide health insurance rather than stubbornly insisting on total repeal or unfettered support.
Pressing the Case for Better Access to Capital
Creating more opportunities for women entrepreneurs to access capital will be a major WIPP theme in 2016. Today, women entrepreneurs receive only 4% of commercial loan dollars. WIPP’s access to capital platform, Breaking the Bank, was enthusiastically received by policy makers and has focused the conversation on solutions to capital access challenges. The 2016 access to capital story will feature new and innovative capital access methods. WIPP’s partner, Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), has been authoring the capital access narrative for microbusinesses and lenders by developing modern capital solutions that create larger funding pools for small entrepreneurs. Equity crowdfunding, a component of WIPP’s Access to Capital Platform and a major priority for AEO, will make its debut in 2016. Crowdfunding allows a business to seek capital from a diverse group of investors through a website or “funding portal” and provides those investors with an equity stake or stock in the business. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will begin registering funding portals later this month. Technological innovations provide more opportunities for women business owners to access capital and will be a principle policy initiative in 2016.
The narrative for 2016, whether on Capitol Hill or in the Presidential/Congressional campaigns, is achieving results. There is no doubt that most Americans think the political system is broken and much ado has been made over the limited days Congress will be in session in 2016. But for the first time in many years, a little optimism is showing through. It started with a certain budget and that certainty reverberates throughout our economy.
WIPP, its partner organizations, and women entrepreneurs will continue to press for important policy changes and it requires us to start from a position of optimism. 2016, in our opinion, is the start of getting back to legislating and good government. It won’t happen all at once, but we see the path forward.