You may have heard a lot of talk about President Trump's first 100 days in office. But what does it all mean for your business? Nobody has a working crystal ball, but business owners and experts are trying to make sense of how the first three months might affect the next four years.
In these times, there's no doubt that the billionaire entrepreneur has made decisions that will affect companies. So here's a look at a few of the big moments of the last 100 days—and how it may affect business going forward.
The Repeal and Replacement of the Affordable Care Act
President Donald Trump promised during his campaign to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, which was designed to expand health insurance coverage for Americans. As things last stand, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal and replace the ACA on May 4th, and the Senate is currently working on reshaping the bill, which could take some time.
The Positives: Brian Binke, CEO of The Birmingham Group, a Detroit-based executive recruiting firm that specializes in the construction industry, believes premiums will come down if the Affordable Care Act disappears.
"I've found that very few companies in America use Obamacare for their employee's healthcare insurance," he says.
But, regardless, Binke says, one of the biggest financial drags business owners have is the escalating cost of health care insurance for their workforce. He also says that from what he has seen, the ACA's mandates have affected what needs to be covered on all health care insurance policies, and that the premiums for business group health care insurance have shot up.
Binke seems fairly optimistic that health care will improve under the Trump administration.
"At this time, no one knows what we’ll wind up end up with," he says. “Whatever it is, it has to be better than what we have today."
The Negatives: Peg Newman is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates® – Newman Group, an executive search services company, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"I know that the ACA isn't perfect," she says, but she adds that she likes it and says her company's health care costs have been significantly less than it was before the ACA came along.
She also believes that it has been better for the business world, beyond the lower costs. "Employees have more freedom to move without benefit handcuffs, so it improves recruiting," Newman says.
And Newman adds, speaking of her six full-time employees, not counting about 25 contract staff: "My people are healthier. They get preemptive care they didn't get before."
The Withdrawal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as the TPP, was finalized in February 2016. The agreement would have created a single market for trading purposes similar to the European Union. The trading partners would have been the United States, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Singapore and Brunei. The goal was to strengthen economic ties, lowering tariffs and encouraging trade between the countries.
But there were critics of the TPP on both the right and the left, who felt that the partnership would be bad for American businesses. In any case, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum on January 23, allowing the U.S. to formally withdraw from the TPP.
The Positives: Even if you were a fan of the TPP, the impacts of withdrawing from the TPP on U.S. businesses should be minimal, says Maia Linask, assistant professor of economics at the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
"There was so much uncertainty, even before President Trump's inauguration, about whether the agreement would be ratified by Congress, that most U.S. firms probably did not make major plans or investments in anticipation of the TPP going into force," she says.
She adds that some industries may fare better without the TPP.
"U.S. tariffs on imports from the five TPP countries with which the U.S. does not have a separate trade agreement will remain in place, which will provide some continued protection for U.S. producers, especially in agriculture, textile and apparel, and chemical industries," Linask says.
The Negatives: Linask says in the long term, the business world may regret pulling out.
"China has already signaled its intention to step into the void left by the U.S. withdrawing from the agreement," she says. "If China succeeds in negotiating its proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and this effectively replaces the TPP, then Chinese exports will face lower tariffs in all RCEP member countries. Because Chinese exports will be subject to lower tariffs, U.S. exports will be at a competitive disadvantage since they will still be subject to higher tariffs."
That would slow growth in U.S. exports, and possibly reduce them, she says.
The Rollback of Business Regulations
President Trump has rolled back federal regulations connected to everything from education to the environment, which can wind up affecting some businesses. One of the more likely consequential decisions was put into place on January 30, when Trump signed a presidential executive order that requires federal agencies to eliminate at least two regulations for any new business regulation added.
The Positives: JR Lanis, an attorney in Los Angeles who works at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and specializes in mergers, acquisitions and securities, says that in his corner of the universe, the business world is very excited and hopeful about deregulation.
"In general, the fewer regulations means less money spent on attorneys, accountants and taxes that go along with these regulations," Lanis says. "It also removes impediments to doing business and makes it easier and faster to generate revenue."
The Negatives: It's the law of unintended consequences, according to Ashley Kaplan, a labor law attorney with ComplyRight, which monitors 22,000 localities for labor law posting changes as part of its human resources compliance services and solutions for small businesses.
"The federal administration's promise of 'one regulation in, two out' won't necessarily simplify business operations," she says, pointing out that as rules go out the window, state and local governments may wind up making their own to fill the gap.
But, really, whether deregulation is bad or good for businesses depends largely on how it's executed Lanis says.
"We're now over 100 days in, and the president has issued executive orders, which have sometimes been helpful, and sometimes they've been more cosmetic than anything else," he says. "And those executive orders can be reversed by the next president, whoever he or she turns out to be. To really have significant impact with these regulations, Trump is going to have to work with Congress."