The good news is that a golf course owner is about to become the U.S. President. The bad news is he has more baggage than Kim & Kanye checking into a Ritz-Carlton for a month.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve asked a lot of people I respect … lobbyists, executives, business owners – my boss at GIE Media – if they saw this coming and not one of them has said yes. The pollsters were wrong, the pundits were wrong and (god forbid) I was wrong. I’d been happily telling anyone who’d listen that the “genius” election analyst Nate Silver called this thing a couple of years ago and it was a dead mortal lock that we’d have our first female president.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. I unfollowed Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight on Twitter and Facebook this morning and I took the following pledge: I will never, ever get emotionally involved in an election. Pete Townshend’s lyrics echo loudly in my head: I won’t get fooled again.
So, what does this mean for our little industry? A few thoughts…
Some big federal challenges just got easier.Everything’s on the table:
WOTUS – Either the rule gets overturned in Congress or it comes to a newly conservative 5-4 Supreme Court and gets tossed out for legislative overreach.
DOL Overtime Rule – This is largely an executive order so it’s highly likely to be toast, either by another executive order or by a legislative effort to phase the change in slowly over a number of years. That said, this law will go into effective Dec. 1 so plan accordingly and keep your ear to the ground about enforcement (if any).
Federal Minimum Wage Increase – A big jump is off the table. This will be a burning local issue (see below).
EPA – I have no clue who Mr. Trump will select as his EPA administrator, but I’ll bet the farm that person won’t be all that keen about climate change (coal) or regulations that impact development (WOTUS). Pretty sure that pressure on neonics and other FIFRA issues will diminish as well (at least in the U.S.). One insider told me he expects tons of resignations at the EPA: “Veteran agency people will take retirement rather than serving in a Trump administration. They hate everything about him.”
Some big federal problems are still cloudy.
ACA – Obamacare is going to be replaced with something. I must assume that new something will be less burdensome for business. I have no clue, honestly.
Immigration – Does this wild (and pointless) idea of building a bigass Mexican wall mean we can’t fix legal, visa-based guest worker programs like H-2B? I don’t claim to understand immigration policy but I do know legal guest workers are invaluable to the entire green industry and we’re better off with them than without.
Golfer-in-Chief.It’s always good to have a golfer in the Oval Office. Some of you criticized our current chief executive for playing too much golf. That’s bull. We should celebrate the fact any modern president views golf as a form of R&R to cope with the most stressful job in the world. That was true with Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Clinton, Reagan and both Bushes. I may not like what the Trump brand means in golf, but it’s obviously a win for us to have someone who understands our business in the most powerful job in the world. Maybe, just maybe, National Golf Day can visit the White House.
What won’t change?Remember what the late, great Tip O’Neill said: All politics is local. The fact that there’s been a sea change in the White House will not mean much to local and state activists. If anything, you’re likely to see anti-pesticide groups and others focus more on municipalities, counties and states.
The No. 1 local issue in many big cities will likely be minimum wage. That was already coming and it’s not likely to change. Don’t start thinking we can defund lobbying or government affairs budgets … we’ll just be spending more of it on state issues and local messes.
So, on the shallowest of levels, the Trump Administration is seemingly a good thing for golf. Our regulatory burden may get lighter and some of our labor issues could improve. Our next President is not only a golfer, but someone with a stake in our business. But, like it or not, his golf bag is the lightest of the baggage he’ll tote into the White House in a few months. Time, as they say, will tell.