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Smith Opening Statement at Hearing on How Middle Class Families are Faring in Today’s Economy

February 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Adrian Smith (R-NE) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on How Middle Class Families are Faring in Today’s Economy.

Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Smith sent a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Chairman Mike Thompson (D-CA).  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, for holding this first hearing of the 116th Congress.

“I appreciate the opportunity to discuss how middle class Americans are faring in today’s economy.

“A growing economy and the opportunity to keep more of what they earn are good for the middle class, and that is exactly what they are seeing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“Our economy is growing at greater than 3%.  Wages are growing at nearly 4%.  The state of our economy is strong.

“It has never been easier for an American who wants to take advantage of economic opportunity to get training, enter the workforce, or find a better job.

“Last year in the Human Resources Subcommittee we held a series of hearings reviewing what more we could do to engage those not currently in the workforce. 

“We found reconnecting gave workers not just an income, but the dignity and pride of supporting their family and engaging with society.  We also found employers need people as badly as people on the sidelines need that first step back toward opportunity.

“The message from employers in those hearings was clear: they desperately need workers to fill good jobs, so much so that they are willing to train people themselves and pay them a competitive wage with good benefits to fill open positions.

“The witnesses we heard from last year came from locations and industries across the country – this was not a regional or industry-specific trend.

“I am particularly pleased we will be able to hear a message consistent with this trend from Mr. Berkebile today.

“When I speak with employers throughout Nebraska’s Third District, I hear frequently about need for workers to fill good jobs in manufacturing.  This message isn’t confined to traditional manufacturing either.

“Last year when I visited MetalQuest, in Hebron, Nebraska, I had the opportunity to see their state of the art, automated manufacturing facility.  During my visit, the head of manufacturing told me that despite a fully automated production process, the biggest impediment to growth was a lack of people to operate and maintain machinery.

“I also recently had the opportunity to visit the heavy equipment program at Central Community College in Hastings, Nebraska.

“I wanted to visit and see for myself the training programs taking place at CCC because I had been hearing from leaders in our state’s construction industry how pleased they were to help create and support this program to address ongoing issues finding workers. 

“During my visit I was impressed with the competitive cost, quality training, speed at which they get people trained to succeed in good jobs – further proof you don’t need an expensive four year degree to succeed in our economy.

“I am pleased to see that Dr. Eddinger, the president of the largest community college in Massachusetts agrees community colleges  have an important role to play in preparing their students for jobs.  In Massachusetts alone there will be a need for 65,0000 such jobs in the coming years.

“Alongside the strong job market, tax reform is allowing middle class Americans to keep more of their own money.  As I mentioned in our hearing last week, under TCJA a single mother with two children doesn’t owe a nickel in federal income tax until she earns more than $53,000, and a typical family of four earning $75,000 will save $2,000 in taxes. 

“The worst thing we could do for middle class families is to take more of what they earn through tax increases. 

“Raising Social Security taxes won’t help a single mom get ahead.  Increasing the gas tax and raising taxes as part of a green new deal won’t help stretch paychecks further.

“Repealing corporate tax reform – something even President Obama supported and included in his budget – won’t help add new middle class jobs.

“Tax reform shouldn’t be a once-every-thirty-years event.  We should work every year to ensure the tax code is working well for as many Americans as possible.

“We should view any changes to tax policy with an eye toward helping Americans help themselves and their neighbors, not with the goal of collecting more money so we can grow government on the backs of hardworking Americans. 

“Thank you to our witnesses.  I yield back.”