July 20, 2022

Smith Opening Statement: House Budget Committee Hearing on Early Childhood Investment

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to welcome the newest member of this committee, Blake Moore from Utah.

Democrats and Republicans can both agree a focus on early childhood development is important. But I find it curious that this committee – which greenlit $2 trillion in spending last year and sparked the worst inflation crisis in forty years – is not using its time to examine the country’s current situation. America is on the brink of a recession, which would do more harm to families than anything else.

Inflation has risen 13.8 percent since President Biden took office. That means families are spending more money on clothes for their kids and food to feed them.

Our economy shrank 1.6 percent last quarter, and current forecasts show that this quarter it shrank again. Twenty five percent of Americans are reportedly postponing their retirement because of financial concerns. The average family will spend over $5,000 more this year just to make ends meet.

Labor force participation is also down, and we still have over 11 million job openings – due in part to the Democrats’ decision last year to remove work requirements from the Child Tax Credit.

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates at the fastest pace in 40 years to combat Biden’s inflation crisis. The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has doubled since Biden became President.

The biggest threat to families right now is not a lack of government spending. We are in a state of crisis precisely because of government spending.

None of this happened by accident. Washington Democrats purposely dumped trillions into the economy, paid people not to work, and strangled American fossil fuels.

And Congressional Democrats are bound and determined to make the economic pain and suffering even worse.

Using reconciliation instructions this committee passed last September, Senate Democrats are reviving a Build Back Broke agenda that would spend hundreds of billions more and raises taxes by as much as $1 trillion. Raising taxes when the economy is in or headed toward a recession is a bad idea. Janet Yellen, Barack Obama, Joe Manchin, and Chuck Schumer have all previously said as much. And yet, that’s what Democrats are trying to do.

A looming recession – brought on by the reckless economic policies of this Administration and one-party Democrat rule in Washington – would be particularly painful for the parents and kids this hearing is supposedly focused on. Looking at the most recent recession from 2007-2009; we lost 9 million jobs. 10 million people fell into poverty, including 3 million children. We can’t just ignore this problem and hope it will go away.

But turning back to the topic of this hearing, let’s look at what our Democrat colleagues have actually proposed.

The Congressional Budget Office confirmed the child care subsidies in their Build Back Broke agenda will actually raise costs for middle-class families. On top of that, the Democrat plan specifically excludes faith-based providers that millions of families rely on for care.

Under their plan, federal funding scales back, leaving states on the hook for almost half the cost within seven years.

Their plan would require states and grantees to have child care and pre-k programs approved by the HHS Secretary. This is the same Secretary who let teachers unions edit CDC guidance to keep schools shut down last year. Meanwhile, the President’s Department of Education is threatening schools that don’t use the right gender pronouns or let biological men compete in girl’s sports.

We should be focused on the things that will directly affect Americans today – like avoiding tax increases on families and small businesses and halting inflationary spending that is making it hard for folks to afford the basic necessities needed to raise their kids.

We need pro-growth policies that put families on solid ground, and when it comes to child care and education, we need to keep the decision-making local. Stop trying to impose a Washington-knows-best approach.

I yield back.