The polls are closed. The Electoral College has spoken. Whether you love him or loathe him, Donald Trump is America’s first pure-businessman president. So now that the rhetoric has quieted somewhat, it’s time to examine the Trump administration’s probable impact on the business climate here in Westchester.
The minimum wage was a hot-button issue during the election, and no one expects that debate to end anytime soon. New York State made a stand on raising the minimum wage prior to the election, but the question of what that will mean in the context of a Trump presidency remains to be seen.
“Trump made it very clear that he was against the $15 minimum wage during the campaign,” says John Ravitz, executive vice president of the Business Council of Westchester. “[The New York State minimum-wage-increase bill] passed in a bipartisan Albany, and though federal law supersedes state law, I can’t see him going deep into the weeds to make changes. He will closely watch the states that have made the change [and] examine what the outcomes are.” The new state law, which went into effect on December 31, raises the minimum wage in Westchester County to $10 an hour.
Big promises were made by the Trump campaign for infrastructure development, an area that even the most strident Trump detractor agrees needs improvement. The incoming president went so far as to promise doubling the current spending on infrastructure.
“[Trump] was very clear: He had a 10-year plan to address the improvement of highways, airports, clean water, etc.,” says Ross Pepe, president of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc. “The question is how he plans to pay for all of this. He has talked about private capitalization and bond programs and a host of good ideas, but we will have to wait and see.”
Perhaps the most controversial political football kicked around for the past eight years has been the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare” has seen 20 million Americans enroll, including 2.8 million New Yorkers. Answering the question of what to do with this vast number of citizens if they lose their healthcare is not easy.
“Whether or not people have health-insurance coverage, you have to treat them if they show up in an emergency room. The financial burden of caring for these individuals without coverage will fall to the already-stressed hospital system,” says Kevin Dahill, EVP of the Healthcare Association of New York State. “Twenty million people will need to be treated when they are sick. If there is a restructuring of Medicaid, as well, which many believe will be attempted, the financial effect, especially here in New York, will be devastating to the economy.”
In January, then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence declared that his boss would sign an executive order to repeal Obamacare on his very first day in office, promising to replace with it a smaller, cheaper government alternative. Some congressional Republicans favor an amended or modified version of Obamacare instead.