WASHINGTON — By Marty McConnell, Rural & Agriculture Council of America Task Force Member
This past year brought with it uncertainty around every corner. Our economy has taken a hit, and it is still reeling as we near the one-year mark of the COVID-19 global pandemic in the U.S.
While the roll-out of such programs as PPP, CFAP, and PPE have been less than ideal, their intent served its purpose. Many Americans struggling were given access to needed financial assistance, both personally and on a business-wide level. Many of our local businesses were able to tap into programs via the CARES Act, and while we have still seen too many shutter their doors, the assistance has been a positive force.
It isn’t often that we look to how big businesses are affected in an economic crisis. Rather, our focus stays on our local restaurants and businesses. But what is lost in that conversation are many of our neighbors and friends who are employed, for example, by the local Tractor Supply Co. here in Arizona. Large companies were ineligible for many of the programs offered by the CARES Act. Their profit margins before COVID-19 either precluded them, or they simply had too many employees to qualify. But that doesn’t mean the trickle-down effect still doesn’t come into play. While it is hard to justify wanting to support the bottom lines of multi-million dollar companies, what we can all support are our local stores providing essential goods and services, and supporting the people in our communities that they employ.
These large companies weren’t completely left out of the government aid packages though. Instead, they saw their support come in the form of assistance in lowering traditional barriers to interest tax deductions. This means that large employers in Arizona, like Tractor Supply Co., could deduct up to 50 percent of their profits in 2020. Since the pandemic significantly affected overall profits, this was a welcome change. However, this only lasted through 2020 and it is clear that businesses are still hurting and will be for some time.
My involvement with team roping events across the country has introduced me to people of all backgrounds and has served as a reminder that we’re all in this together. This same mentality should be shared in Washington. The tax support for large businesses received bipartisan support, during a particularly divided time in Congress. These types of non-controversial, bipartisan solutions are the key to our country’s economic recovery.
Though the nation is struggling, we have a history of resilience. Thanks to the hard work of our elected officials like Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, Arizona is also resilient. However, this only rings true with a steady stream of commonsense policies that support everyday people. The COVID interest deductibility measure allows large employers to keep people working, and even creates new job opportunities for more. As the new Administration settles into place, the bipartisan nature of this measure should be extended into 2021. While we may not have been able to predict the extent of this pandemic, we can make sure our businesses, large and small, survive it.
Rural & Agriculture Council of America Task Force Member