How Will Obama's Second Term Look for Retailers?

The National Retail Federation isn't overly enthusiastic about Obama's re-election.
November 09, 2012

How will a second term for President Barack Obama play out for retailers? The National Retail Federation isn’t overly optimistic. The trade association forecasts higher costs from healthcare reform, among other things.

The Healthcare Issue

The association’s gloomy outlook isn’t a surprise, given its pre-election enthusiasm for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. (Now it has pledged to work with Obama, though.) Also consider that when the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare over the summer, the NRF released a statement saying it was “dismayed”—and that the new requirements would mostly hurt smaller businesses, who can’t afford healthcare premiums. It would also hike the cost of doing business for companies that employ lots of part-time workers.

“Congress set out to make healthcare more accessible by making it more affordable," NRF chief executive Matthew Shay said in July. "Instead, what we may well get is a perfect storm of unintended consequences that drives up costs so high that many companies likely will be forced to cut back their payrolls."

Shay said on Wednesday: “The top issue facing our nation the day after the election is the same as it was the day before the election—the economy. The U.S. needs public policy that encourages economic growth and removes barriers to job creation."?

The Tax Issue

An Obama administration also could mean higher taxes for small businesses, the NRF said. "Most of the $500 billion in tax increases are a result of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for individuals, and could have a substantial impact on consumer spending," the NRF wrote.?

The NRF predicted that a bill forcing online companies to pay state sales tax—something many brick-and-mortar retailers are desperate for— could move forward. ?

A new bipartisan sales tax “fairness” bill “is expected to be released by cosponsors reconciling differences between the current House and Senate versions. As lead cosponsor of the Senate bill, Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., will continue his push to pass the legislation while fiscal cliff negotiations continue."??

The NRF also noted Montana re-elected Senator Jon Tester (D), an opponent of swipe-fee reform—and that Senator Scott Brown (R), a swipe-fee supporter, lost his seat to Elizabeth Warren. Warren has supported regulation of credit card companies.

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