Elections 2004: An Interesting Political Year
At the time of this writing, the presidential victor was just announced. Whether I agree with the results or not is irrelevant. What matters is that we have a decisive winner, and Congress and the White House can now get back to the business of governing. And we as an Association can continue our work to influence decisions at all levels of government.
The makeup of the House and Senate will be extraordinarily different next Congress. I hope many of those newly elected to the Senate are strong supporters of our industry and have committed to voting for Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation when it comes to the floor for consideration. Of course, we may still have our work cut out for us to make that happen.
As far as the Executive Branch is concerned, according to Marian Marshall, MCAA's Washington lobbyist, there will be an enormous exodus from the White House, particularly at the Cabinet level. She personally foresees some changes at the Justice Department, the State Department, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development and, quite possibly, Homeland Security. Fortunately, MCAA has established some very solid working relationships with both appointees and career officials in important positions at the Departments of Labor and the Treasury ? many of whom will remain in their posts and maintain their sensitivity to our concerns, whether it's silica, hexavalent chromium, hearing conservation, the elimination of the death tax, or tax deductions for apprenticeship training.
At the Department of Labor, Marian's prognostication is that Secretary Elaine Chao will stay on, but the Assistant Secretary for OSHA, John Henshaw, may decide to return to the private sector. Henshaw has been a real ally and worked very well with our staff in Washington. So our new challenge will be to find someone even more familiar with our industry that we can quickly educate without losing much ground on the regulatory matters to which we've devoted so much work. Our MCAA lobbyist has already begun a dialogue with some of the other construction trade associations to look for possible candidates to recommend to the White House for this important position.
Last but not least, we cannot forget the Supreme Court. The illness of Chief Justice Rehnquist has already stirred speculation about a replacement. It wouldn't be surprising if there were other members of the high court to step down. So while this year's elections were historical for many reasons, the next candidates to serve on the bench will undoubtedly influence many important cases that affect our lives tremendously. The Senate's handling of those nominations will be an intriguing process to witness.
Sir Winston Churchill once said, "In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. And in peace: goodwill." Let us hope that after such a momentous election both parties will truly be magnanimous and work together to bring peace in Iraq and the Middle East, defeat the terrorist cells around the world that threaten our country, create goodwill among our allies abroad, and foster prosperity here at home.
About the Author
G. Alan Griffin, President of Griffin Contractors, Inc., has severals years experience in the masonry industry. He is a past president of the Mason Contractors Association of America and the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association. Griffin grew up working in the masonry business founded in 1957 by his father and grandfather, and has since taken over the family business. Griffin was award the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award for exemplary leadership in advancing the masonry industry in 2007.