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by Kevin Coupe

LAS VEGAS - The National Grocers Association (NGA) launched its 2017 convention here yesterday with an appearance by former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) in which he talked about the presidency, policy, and politics - all of which seemed to be top of mind for independent grocers in the audience.

The Presidency - Boehner said that the country should expect a Trump presidency to be every bit as "chaotic, noisy and controversial" as the Trump campaign was," and that it is hard to know exactly what he will achieve. "He is the least ideological" president in memory, he said, = - a little bit Republican, a little bit Democrat. "Actually, we don't know exactly what he is, other than a populist."

Policy - Boehner said that he expects tax reform to be at the top of the list in terms of legislative achievement this year, and that some sort of transportation/infrastructure bill probably would be forthcoming "sooner rather than later." As for repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, Boehner said that it was critically important that the GOP have a bill ready to go. He noted that Republicans have never put up a health care bill, and so if they are going to repeal the Democratic version, they'd better have a legitimate replacement. He also said he expected there to be more talk than action about a border adjustment tax.

Politics - Boehner also expressed a certain skepticism about the ability of the House of Representatives to accomplish anything; even though the GOP has the majority, he said, there are some 40 "right wing goofballs" who aren't willing to vote for anything. Which could, he said, end up getting in the way of immigration reform in the long run.

In other NGA news...

• The Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award was presented to Roger Lowe, Sr., President/Chairman of the Board, Lowe’s Markets.

Since 2009, the Thomas K. Zaucha Award, presented by Mondel z International and named after NGA's first president and CEO, has been presented annually to recognize an independent grocer that exemplifies persistence, vision, and creative entrepreneurship.

• The Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award was awarded to Chris Coborn, president and CEO of Coborn’s Inc.

The Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award was established in 2014 and is presented to an NGA member who helps advance the role and presence of the independent grocer and NGA in government and political affairs.
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