NMMA, MRAA detail their fiscal cliff concerns


Brent Renneke
December 7, 2012
Filed under Features, Top Stories

During a fragile time in the marine industry, both manufacturers and dealers agree finding a solution to the fiscal cliff is imperative, even if it comes at the cost of some tax concessions.

“Whatever they end up doing, they need to prevent us from going over that cliff,” Jim Currie, legislative director for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said. “Unemployment would go up, it would cut several points off the GDP. For boat manufacturers that would be a death spiral.”

For small businesses like many marine manufacturers and dealers, the concern is real, and it was recently heard in a meeting between leaders of the Republican Party and an exclusive group of small business owners, one of which was Indmar Marine Engines President Chuck Rowe.

In the meeting, which included Speaker of the House John Boehner, Currie said a resolution supporting spending cuts rather than tax increases – similar to the proposal by the Simpson-Bowles Commission – is obviously preferable for the marine industry.

“Cutting spending more than raising taxes is especially good for our industry, which is so susceptible to public confidence in the economy,” Currie said.

Larry Innis, who is the Washington representative for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, is confident an agreement will be reached between the two political parties.

Innis, like Currie and the NMMA, believes dealers are currently losing boat sales due to the economy and the uncertainty that surrounds it, which is unfortunately coming at a time when the industry’s recovery is gaining strength.

“We are just starting to feel good, so obviously we need to avoid an economic turnaround,” Innis said. “And I am confident neither side will want to be blamed for another recession.”

With resolution being the foremost goal, Innis did lay out a few Bush-era tax cuts the MRAA is advocating to keep in place, particularly the capping of the maximum estate tax rate at 35 percent and maintaining the sales tax deduction option for states without income tax.

Members of the Democratic Party have lobbied for raising taxes on the wealthiest of citizens, a measure opposed by Republican officials. Both the NMMA and MRAA said raising taxes for the most wealthy would not have a drastic effect on the industry.

In the meeting with Republican officials, Currie said the proposal was rarely discussed, deferring mostly to other topics regarding the fiscal cliff. Innis believes those affected have a high enough income where their boat purchasing decisions would not be affected by a higher tax rate.


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