Somerset County, Pennsylvania, tucked away in the southwest corner of Commonwealth, is home to Guy Chemical – a manufacturing plant specializing in silicone products and packaging.
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Guy Berkebile, owner of the plant told the Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee at a hearing entitled How Middle Class Families are Faring in Today’s Economy, “was a financial godsend for . . . the dedicated people Guy Chemical employs.”
Referencing the 2017 GOP tax overhaul, Mr. Berkebile said the new law directly benefited his workers: citing higher wages, bigger bonuses, a new employer-sponsored retirement program, as well as 29 new good-paying jobs he was able to create.
Mr. Berkebile said the tax cuts “instilled a sense of optimism among our staff.”
Among those workers was Tammie Gerhart. Following tax reform, she received a 30 percent increase in her bonus. Because of this, she and her husband Bill were able were able to take their first vacation in over seven years.
“These are real people, this is real money in the pockets of hard-working Americans, these are real jobs,” added Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX).
According to recent polling, Americans have not felt this optimistic about their personal finance in over 16 years. This comes as unemployment stays historically low at 4.0 percent, a record number of 7.3 million jobs are available, and wages continuing to increase across sectors – including for those who are moving from their current occupation to higher-paying gigs.
“Alongside the strong job market, tax reform is allowing middle class Americans to keep more of their own money,” said Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), top Republican on the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee. “The worst thing we could do for middle class families is to take more of what they earn through tax increases.”
Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) emphasized that this expansion is reaching all corners of the economy.
“The poorest county in South Carolina is in my district,” Rep. Rice said. “In January 2017, when President Obama left office and President Trump took office, the unemployment rate in Marion County, South Carolina, which is 57 percent African American, was 9.3 percent. Today, 4.7 percent.”
“A growing economy lifts all boats,” stressed Rep. Rice, “but we can do more.”
Offering areas of focus, Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) said Committee Members should work together on “workforce development” and “career and technical education,” stating “clearly those are bipartisan issues we can legislate on and find a solution.”
Mr. Berkebile echoed the need to focus on getting more folks into the workforce. He said that the tight labor market, in addition to tax reform, has led to bigger paychecks for his workers.
“The job market right now is so tight that I have to increase wages, I have no choice,” Mr. Berkebile said.
Building on this, Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) said lawmakers should focus on connecting residents in rural regions to jobs through enhanced broadband systems. “We have a remarkable opportunity to continue this booming economy,” he added.
Rep. Smith said in his closing remarks that he hopes Committee Members can continue to work together this Congress on a bipartisan basis to help all folks benefit from this growing economy.