Something quite unusual occurred on June 24. Anthropologists are already questioning the rare event and usually loquacious pundits are at a loss for words. Watchers, usually keen to find any outlier in the behavior of the rare species known as politicus bipartinsanus nearly missed it. On a sultry summer day in the Federal Territory known as Washington, District of Columbia, the “Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015” (TPEA) passed with a bipartisan (albeit grudging) majority.
The bill gives the President “fast-track trade authority,” which makes it easier for his team to negotiate trade deals. Perverse as it may seem, it is “easier” because it prevents future trade deals from being amended by Congress. Strange bedfellows were the rule of the day as Republicans supported and Democrats opposed something the White House wanted. Nancy Pelosi was a key force in passage, having opposed the initiative before she was for it, later complaining that the scope of the Act was too narrow.
At this point you’re probably wondering three things. First, what’s new about Mrs. Pelosi’s position? Second, what does this have to do with you and your trade? Third, why is a trade bill good for your trade? The simple answers are “nothing,” “everything” and “read on.”
As you already know, “Applicable Large Employers” (ALEs) are employers with at least 50 full-time employees and full-time employee equivalents. They must offer Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) to full-time employees and their dependents. The first issue your clients face is how to determine the appropriate employee count. As you might imagine, the legislative and regulatory gremlins have turned this into much, much more than a simple head count.