Volume 13, Issue 1 - January/February 2012

WDMA Update

In Spite of Divided Congress …
WDMA Finalizes 2012 National Policy Agenda
by Ben Gann

Facing a divided Congress, and with a presidential election in the fall, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) has finalized its national policy agenda for 2012. After failing to agree on deficit reduction or extending dozens of popular tax incentives in 2011, it remains uncertain what the top priorities of Congress will be this year.

Election year politics should have a major impact on Congress as attention has focused largely on the disagreements between Democrats and Republicans following the failure of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction—or the supercommittee as it is better known—to reach an agreement on deficit reduction.

For its part, WDMA remains committed to working with Congress and the Administration to advance policies that will further stabilize the housing sector, and protect and enhance the global competitiveness of our manufacturing sector.

Restoring Tax Incentives
The residential energy efficiency (25C) tax credit was one of more than 60 tax incentives that expired at the end of 2011. WDMA currently is having discussions in both the House and Senate to increase and extend the credit—including retroactively for 2012. The 25C tax credit creates and preserves American jobs and promotes energy efficiency by helping owners of existing homes afford higher efficiency doors and windows.

Congressional efforts addressing the tax code should also protect the mortgage interest deduction. Attempts to change the mortgage interest deduction would raise taxes on millions of homebuyers and homeowners thereby further depressing home values. Of the nearly 37 million homeowners who benefit from the mortgage interest deduction, 70 percent goes to middle-class homeowners, and now is not the time to harm the fragile recovery in housing.

However, broader tax reform is emerging as an important part of lowering the federal budget deficit. Many of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 are set to expire at the end of 2012. If Congress does nothing this year to reform the tax code, personal income and capital gains tax rates—among other tax provisions—will rise to 2001 levels. Despite the need to address a number of expiring tax provisions before the end of the year, there is no consensus yet in Congress on how to reform the tax code.

"If Congress does nothing this year to reform the tax
code, personal income and capital gains tax rates—among other tax provisions—will rise to 2001 levels."

Restoring the Opt-Out
WDMA is also advocating for reform of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead Renovation Repair and Paint (LRRP) rule. Proposed legislation would restore the “Opt-Out Provision” allowing homeowners without small children or pregnant women present to decide whether to require LRRP compliance, suspend the LRRP if EPA cannot approve one or more test kits that meet the regulation’s requirements and provide a de minimis exemption for first-time paperwork violations.

Fighting for a More Balanced Approach
Overregulation affects the economic competitiveness of manufacturers. WDMA supports legislation offering a balanced approach to EPA’s Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, allowing the agency the time it needs to re-propose the rules and get them right, while giving companies the certainty they need to plan, invest and comply with the rules’ capital-intensive requirements.

In addition, there is a need for legislation enhancing the regulatory process which has been unchanged since 1946. There are several ways to improve the regulatory process, including increased public participation in shaping rules before they are proposed, preventing agency abuses of interim final rules, requiring agencies to use the least costly option in most circumstances and providing for appropriate review of the rationality of agency decisions.

If you would like to weigh in on these issues with your members of Congress, you can make your voice heard in Washington by attending the WDMA Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., March 5-7. Visit www.wdma.com for more information.

Ben Gann is director of legislative affairs and grassroots activities for the WDMA in Washington, D.C.

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