AAF Government Report: January 16, 2015

From Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President–Government Affairs
Topics below include:

  • WEBINAR: Government Affairs Programs and Club Membership Growth
  • Tax Reform in the New Congress
  • President Obama Talks Privacy
  • FTC Not Planning to Survey Food Marketing


Looking to leverage government affairs programs to increase your membership?

On Thursday, February 26 at 2:00 p.m. ET, join the AAF and advertising club leaders from Florida, Cincinnati, Louisville and Omaha to discuss successful government affairs programs and how to utilize them for membership recruitment and retention.

Programs have included:

Advertising Day in the State Capitol
Targeted Events for CEO’s, General Managers and Agency Principals in Your Market
Advertising Basics for Political Candidates
In Depth Examination of Key Issues.
Register Here.

Tax Reform in the New Congress

Tax reform remains a priority for the new leaders of the Congressional tax writing committees, but it seems clear they plan on starting from the beginning and will not merely reintroduce the earlier proposals of their predecessors.

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has said he will form a number of bipartisan working groups to examine different parts of the tax code, including business, international, individual, and retirement and savings provisions.

Senator Hatch recently took to the Senate floor to outline his seven principles for tax reform. Those principles are economic growth, fairness, simplicity, permanence, competitiveness, promoting saving and investment, and revenue neutrality.

Chairman Hatch has not set a timetable for consideration or final reports, but would reportedly like the working groups to act in the spring. Any recommendations would be nonbinding. It is uncertain whether they would be made public.

In the House of Representatives, new Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., has pledged to address tax reform, but has not yet revealed any specific plans. He has said that giving President Obama expanded trade powers would be a top priority this year. Trade promotion authority, or “fast-track authority,” is very controversial and could prevent consideration of tax reform in the very near future.

There is broad agreement among lawmakers and the White House about cutting the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent and trimming or eliminating many tax deductions and preferences. The disagreements come in the specifics, such as how far to lower the rate, exactly which deductions and preferences should be targeted, and whether the reform should be revenue neutral or raise additional funds.

In the previous session of Congress, the then chairmen of the tax writing committees introduced reform proposals that included provisions limiting the current year tax deduction for advertising expenses to 50% with the remaining 50% amortized over five or ten years. AAF will work hard to educate lawmakers about the economic value of advertising and the importance of maintaining 100% tax deductibility for the year in which it is incurred.

President Obama Talks Privacy

In a recent address at the Federal Trade Commission, President Obama previewed a number of privacy proposals that may be a part of his State of the Union address on Jan. 20.

One issue that could have wide support among lawmakers and industry is the passage of a federal data-breach and notification law. Currently, companies must comply with 49 different state laws, which are often inconsistent and sometimes conflicting. There is consensus among many in the business community that a single reasonable federal standard would be a great benefit to industry and consumers alike.

The President renewed his call for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which he first made in 2012. The Bill of Rights is not legislation, but a set of principles focusing on individual control, transparency, respect for context, security, access and accuracy, focused collection, and accountability.

President Obama also called for a student digital privacy bill that would limit companies that collect data as part of educational services to use it only for educational purposes. The proposal would prohibit companies from selling student data to third parties for non-educational purposes and from using data collected in an educational setting to deliver targeted advertising.

The President’s proposal is based on the recently enacted California Senate Bill 1177. This is another area of possible consensus as many education tech companies have already voluntarily committed to keeping student data private.

FTC Not Planning to Survey Food Marketing

Federal Trade Commission officials have said they have no plans to conduct another survey of child marketing data from the 44 largest food and beverage companies in the United States.

The Commission previously conducted surveys and issued reports using data from 2006 and 2009. In the second report the agency determined that companies spent 20% less on marketing products to youth in 2009 than it did in 2006, due primarily to reductions in television advertising. The industry also made progress in increasing the advertising of healthier foods.

In September, ten Democratic lawmakers urged the Commission to do a new survey using 2014 data. Such a survey would likely be expensive for the FTC and take a year and a half to two years to complete.

The FTC was one of the lead agencies in the Interagency Working Group that in 2011 issued a report calling for so-called voluntary restrictions on the advertising to children of foods not meeting draconian nutrition standards. Congress has included language in recent Omnibus Bills funding the government that prohibits the Commission completing its work on the report until a cost-benefit analysis is performed.

AAF Government Report is available to all members of the AAF. If you are interested in receiving an e-mailed copy, please e-mail government@aaf.org.


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