Put your finger down, Mr. President
In a recent op-ed, President Biden attempted to lay out a three-part strategy to combat inflation and rising gas prices and transition America “from recovery to stable, steady growth.” The truth is his solutions will only worsen the inflation crisis, and he knows it. I’m not surprised he angrily lashed out during his address to the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia at those who oppose and have identified the consequences of his reckless spending spree, defiantly claiming his policies are “changing peoples’ lives.” And I can only laugh when he dismissed the question from a reporter about a recession saying, “Now you sound like a Republican politician.”
The president was handed an economy ready to flourish post-Covid thanks to the success of President Trump’s historic vaccine development effort. But in his first days in office, Biden subsequently dismissed Operation Warp Speed’s chief advisor, retired the name, slow-walked reopening, and blamed the resulting economic stagnation squarely at the feet of President Donald Trump.
Instead of encouraging businesses to reopen and Americans to return to normalcy, the president paid workers $2,800 to stay-at-home, tried (and failed) to impose a vaccine mandate on private businesses with 100 or more employees, and encouraged states to shutter businesses and impose stringent mask mandates while simultaneously criticizing Republican governors who refused to follow suit. To the latter point, it was states with Republicans in charge that led the nation with the strongest recoveries.
The president promised the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) would bring 4 million new jobs, championing it as the force behind “the most robust recovery in modern history.” Well, according to a December 2021 jobs report, ARPA actually resulted in less job creation, and is a primary driver of the inflation the country is mired in.
President Biden’s plan to combat inflation, by shifting responsibility to the Federal Reserve, raising taxes, and passing his Build Back Better agenda, is bogus. These actions curry favor with his base but will not fix our supply chains, ease price pressures, or reduce the federal deficit. Supply chain issues will persist so long as we continue our overreliance on China, gas prices will remain high so long as his administration wages war against American energy and, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Build Back Better agenda would add more than $160 billion to the budget deficit, far more disastrous than ARPA.
Biden claimed in his op-ed that he, “will work with anyone—Democrat, Republican, or independent—willing to have an open and honest discussion that delivers real solutions for the American people.” But does anybody really believe that at this point? Finger pointing won’t solve anything, so I’ll play along with his pitch for bipartisanship and offer a few real solutions to address the economic crisis.
First, end the war on American energy companies and encourage more investment in the domestic production of oil and natural gas. Instead of pressuring the oil and gas industry to cap prices which, as we saw with the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, only decreases production, the president should streamline the permitting process for federal land and allow projects like the Keystone XL pipeline to continue. This will not only create thousands of high-paying jobs at a time when Americans need them most but decrease our reliance on oil from our adversaries.
Second, address the labor shortage by investing in domestic manufacturing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing industry lost 7.5 million jobs since its peak in 1969, with the most significant drop between 2000 and 2017. Ensuring our tax system is favorable to manufacturers is one way to reverse that trend.
Congress and the administration could work together to make permanent the 100 percent bonus depreciation credit passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which is set to begin phasing out at the end of 2022. The Tax Foundation estimates that making the TCJA bonus depreciation provision permanent would result in higher wages, a larger economy, and 172,300 new full-time jobs.
Finally, get serious about ending reckless spending. Since taking office less than two years ago, the president: added $1.9 trillion in debt through passage of ARPA, lobbied Congress to pass the $2.15 trillion Build Back Better agenda, supported raising the federal debt limit, and is on the verge of cancelling federal student loans for millions of borrowers. Inflationary pressures will only worsen if we do not work to cut reckless spending.
Voters are tired of paying more at the pump and at the grocery store, and want leaders who will work to fix inflation, not work to spin it. I hope President Biden considers these proposals in order to deliver real solutions for American businesses and families.
Scott Fitzgerald represents the 5th District of Wisconsin.
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