Current Issue

Rubber industry, America enter post-election phase

Comments Email
The boasting, the accusations, the half-truths and outright lies of the 2012 election are over.

Now the U.S. electorate—and the tire and rubber industry—will find out where America is going in the second half of a Barack Obama presidency.

For rubber product makers and suppliers, like all U.S. businesses, the biggest impact involves the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

The implementation schedules for the various provisions of law are in place, and many details are confusing or lacking. Some opponents of the healthcare law still will try to weaken or stop it.

Overturn Obamacare? No, that horse has left the barn.

All people, states and companies will have to comply with what essentially means all Americans will have healthcare in 2014. As for how well the system will work...stay tuned.

On the regulatory front, there is no expectation that federal agencies—like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—will become less active during the next four years. Under a Romney administration, such agencies might have slipped back into the quietude of the last Republican administration.

On the other hand, don't expect another big tariff case in the tire industry—like the U.S. Steelworkers vs. China tire imports case. Mr. Obama paid back the union movement's support when he levied duties on Chinese-made passenger and light truck tires, but a similar issue doesn't appear likely in the near future.

The tire labeling rulemaking, still in the creation process, might have slowed under an anti-regulatory Romney administration. However, the regulation is fairly far along and probably wouldn't have been halted by Mr. Romney and certainly not under an Obama administration.

The same can't be said for rules covering tire-derived fuel (TDF). It looked like the tire industry dodged a bullet in June 2011 when the EPA didn't define TDF as a solid waste, which would have made it subject to serious restrictions. Since then, though, the EPA has been reconsidering its decision, and the TDF issue is still in play.

Mr. Romney, according to Beltway watchers, certainly would have postponed or killed that rulemaking.

And finally, elimination of the estate tax—the so-called “death tax”—would have been a darling of a GOP executive branch, and of great interest to family-owned rubber companies. Don't expect that on the Dem's watch.

Whatever happens now, all participants in the rubber industry can agree on one benefit of the end of the election: No more political ads.

This editorial appeared in Rubber & Plastics News, an Akron-based companion publication of Tire Business.
More Polls>

TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published March 18, 2019

Where can you expect to see the most growth in 2019?

Tire sales
45% (34 votes)
General automotive service
15% (11 votes)
Brakes, shocks and other undercar services
7% (5 votes)
Add-on business
15% (11 votes)
Anywhere we can get it.
19% (14 votes)
Total votes: 75
More Polls »