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What They Are Saying: Appalachian Workers Share Struggles During Hearing on Biden Economy

February 09, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC – Rising energy prices, the cost of living crisis, and generous government benefits fueling a labor shortage are the major challenges facing workers and local business owners who testified before the first hearing of the House Committee on Ways and Means held in Petersburg, West Virginia. Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) convened the hearing Monday on the state of the American economy, during which witnesses shared their struggle to make ends meet and provide for their families in the Biden economy.

“Every family, business, farmer, senior citizen, and, frankly, foreign nation is impacted by our work. More importantly, our values are reflected in that work,” said Ways and Means Chairman Smith during his opening remarks. “But over the last few years, this committee’s work, and that of Congress, has drifted from the needs of these good people. We must course-correct. We must prioritize the voices in rooms like this one and not those of the Washington political class.”

Monday’s field hearing is the first of many such hearings the Ways and Means Committee has planned for the 118thCongress across the nation.


FOX BUSINESS: “Small businesses sound the alarm on inflation, energy, supply chain delays: ‘Bleeding money’

High inflation, rising interest rates, rampant regulations and ongoing supply chain problems are forcing small companies to make sacrifices just to survive, several small business owners in West Virginia told House lawmakers on Monday.

Members of the House Ways and Means Committee traveled to Petersburg, West Virginia, on Monday to hear directly from small business owners there about the difficult reality they face thanks to rising costs and the ever-present threat of more federal regulations.

Ashley Bachman said her restaurant is still struggling with the “ever-increasing cost of goods,” including the propane used to run their kitchen. She said the cost of propane is now twice as high as it was in 2020, and that her lease payments have more than doubled.

Tom Plaugher, vice president of operations for Allegheny Wood Products, told the committee that supply chain problems seen across the country have made it much harder to get the parts he needs to keep his company running. He also said high inflation is making it difficult to stay in business.

Jamie Ward is a plant manager at CONSOL Energy, a producer and exporter of high-BTU bituminous coal. He told the committee he has also watched as federal regulations make it more difficult for his company to stay afloat.

Wylie McDade, co-owner of Devil’s Due Distillery, said all the inputs he needs to run his business are much more expensive than they were in 2020.”

READ: Small businesses sound the alarm on inflation, energy, supply chain delays: ‘Bleeding money’


WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Tax-writing committee holds first hearing at West Virginia lumber business

“The hearing comes a day before President Biden is set to address the nation during his annual State of the Union address. During his remarks, Biden is set to tout the bright spots in the country’s economy, including low unemployment and positive GDP growth.

Smith used the hearing as a bit of a prebuttal to Biden’s much-anticipated speech. He and Republicans contend that the president’s agenda has been mired by economic dysfunction, including inflation, falling real wages, rising interest rates, and supply chain chaos.”

READ: ‘The Crisis Of Rising Costs Of Everything’: West Virginians Tell Congress About Hardships In Biden’s Economy


Daily Caller: ‘The crisis of rising costs of everything’: West Virginians tell Congress about hardships in Biden’s economy”

“West Virginians testified to the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday about the economic hardships they have endured under the Biden administration. The committee held its first hearing of the 118th Congress at Allegheny Wood Products in West Virginia on the state of the American economy. Witnesses testified at the field hearing about the challenges they face due to inflation, supply chain issues, high gas prices, higher interest rates, labor shortages and overregulation.”

READ: ‘The Crisis Of Rising Costs Of Everything’: West Virginians Tell Congress About Hardships In Biden’s Economy


WV Metro News: House Ways and Means Committee comes to West Virginia

“Four representatives of various business large and small in West Virginia testified and took questions from Committee members about the difficulties their respective companies and employers have endured in the past two to three years since the pandemic started. All agreed they have suffered hard times, some more than others, but there was an array of problems laid out to members of the committee.

The number one issue seemed to be the impact of inflation. All four mentioned it in one way or another…

The struggle for workers was a problem all four members of the panel brought up in their discussion. Each indicated the numerous stimulus checks and relief programs offered during the pandemic had created a disincentive to work.

“It put businesses that continued to operate in a position of competing against the government for employees,” said Tom Plaugher, Vice President of Operations for Allegheny Wood Products who hosted the event.

“As the pandemic went on, we had employees coming to us for every reason to try and get out of work to be eligible for those enhanced unemployment benefits when they realized they could actually make more money staying at home than they could coming to work,” he added.”

READ: House Ways and Means Committee Comes to West Virginia