Opening Tuesday’s field hearing on the State of the American Economy: The Heartland, Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) delivered the following opening statement:
“Welcome to the second field hearing of the Ways and Means Committee. Thank you to our hosts, Express Clydesdales, and to Representative Hern and Representative Lucas for hosting us in your beautiful state.
“The committee is in Yukon, Oklahoma, today to listen to working Americans about how to make life better for their families, neighbors, and communities.
“Oklahoma is a place where self-reliance and the frontier spirit run deep. Oil, natural gas, and agriculture built Oklahoma. America’s heartland is the story of the people who fuel, feed, and build our country.
“Today, two thirds of all the energy produced in Oklahoma is exported across the country and the world. The state is the number one producer of rye, one of the top producers of beef cattle, and it has the fourth largest number of farms in America.
“And yet, Democrats in Congress and the White House have targeted communities like this one for the heavy hand of government regulation.
“ESG standards will limit the capital needed to expand Oklahoma’s oil and gas leadership and put radical climate and social policies ahead of the retirement security of working families.
“The President’s policies have made life unaffordable for middle-class families. Even here, a state with plentiful energy, diesel prices were 62 percent higher at their peak than the day Joe Biden became President.
“Over the last decade, 92 farms in Oklahoma went bankrupt. President Biden, in his Budget this week will want to make it even harder to pass the family farm down to the next generation. He wants to repeal stepped-up basis and increase the death tax – treating family farms like piggy banks to pay for more welfare for the wealthy.
“When it comes to Oklahoma manufacturing, the prices that producers pay have risen 17 percent during President Biden’s Administration. Small businesses can barely make payroll and pay rent with their razor-thin margins.
“I am pleased to welcome Bryan Jackson, an Iraq veteran and founder of a meatpacking company, Chuck Mills, owner of a family-owned manufacturing company, Kelli Payne, a fifth-generation rancher from Mustang, Oklahoma, and Joe Brevetti, a small oil producer.
“In two days, President Biden will release his latest budget. If history is our guide, America’s heartland should expect a budget that continues Washington’s assault on their way of life.
“Biden’s last budget threatened $45 billion in new taxes on American energy producers. It spent $330 billion on policies that discourage work, worsen supply chains, and leave Main Street littered with “Help Wanted” signs. Biden’s 25 percent increase for the EPA would supercharge an agency that thinks it’s their business to tell farmers whether a small stream, pond, or farm dust is harming the environment.
“We must humbly listen to the working Americans who are living under these failed policies so we can chart a better course.
“For those of you from the community attending today, or employees of Express Clydesdales, we also want to hear from you. There will be notebooks passed around in the back and I want to encourage every audience member to please share your experiences and ideas to help us get this country back on the right track. These will be entered into the official hearing record to guide this committee’s work.
“I want to thank our witnesses for taking the time away from their families and work today and I look forward to hearing your stories.”
To watch the full livestream of the hearing, click here.