Freight rail is a cornerstone of the United States economy, driving commerce by safely, efficiently and affordably connecting businesses, goods and people. Partly fueled by the deregulatory legacy of the 1980 Staggers Act, the industry generated nearly $274 billion in output, 1.5 million jobs and $33 billion taxes in 2014 alone. In addition to its economic impact, the industry plays a crucial role supporting the nation's government during times of disaster and providing critical mobility to our military.
As the new Congress and Administration take their places in Washington, the freight rail industry sees opportunities for new policies, education and relationships to be made. Leading the conversation on behalf of the industry is The Association of American Railroads (AAR), whose members include the major Class I railroads of the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as smaller non-Class I and passenger railroads including Amtrak, rail supply companies, rail car owners, engineering firms, and signal and communications firms.
On behalf of its members, AAR has laid out a list of macro policy recommendations for US elected officials that recognize that to spur significant economic growth, policymakers must advance macro-policies that extend beyond railroads. Additionally, AAR has identified two major industry-specific policy recommendations that will help to ensure the industry is able to continue safe and efficient operations for the benefit of all Americans.
MACRO POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
We need a simpler and fairer tax code, reducing the corporate rate--the highest in the industrialized world--to a globally-competitive level to broaden the tax base, enhance US economic development, promote growth and reduce debt. Policymakers across the ideological spectrum should work together to simplify our tax code, close loopholes that pick winners and losers, increase transparency and put all expenditures on the table to create agreement and keep American companies at home. Tax reform was bipartisan in 1986 when it was last comprehensively tackled and it can be again in 2017.
New rules should be empirically driven, supported by cost-benefit analysis and geared toward today's innovation economy. Too often government makes rules in a vacuum and without an eye toward the future. Assessment of the cumulative impact of proposed regulation on industry must be part of every rulemaking. Rules can become quickly outdated...