Scott Harding, President of F. B. Harding Electric and Chairman of Apprenticeship and Training for IEC’s Chesapeake Chapter in Maryland, recently represented IEC at President Bush’s Economic Forum at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Designed to bring together a diverse group of government policymakers, small business owners, industry experts, and construction workers, the forum featured eight breakout sessions on a variety of economic topics. One spokesperson from each panel then gave an oral summary to President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

“The three main points I discussed in our session were reiterated in our spokesperson's remarks and restated by President Bush,” Harding says. “The permanent repeal of the death tax, one-size-fits-all regulations, and association health plans were the issues that recurred over and over again in several of the eight breakout sessions.”

President Bush discussed the decline in the construction industry and rallied the group with encouraging words. "I want to get American construction workers back to work," says Bush. "The economy has strengths that are greater than our challenges."

Harding advises contractors and electricians to do their own research and get involved by offering input on industry concerns. “Many of these Cabinet members are serious about supporting our issues,” he says. “We have to get the word out to our people that they need to get some heat on the Congress in order to get things done on our issues."

There was a lot of talk about the death tax and the need for permanent repeal, reports Harding. “Some statistics show that the death tax affects only a small number of people (i.e., one business owner),” he says. “The reality is that if the company has to be liquidated in order to pay the taxes, that obviously affects all of the employees working in that business and their families."