June 14, 2022

Smith Opening Statement: House Budget Committee Hearing on the American Rescue Plan

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It’s been over 15 months since the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law, sparking the highest inflation in 40 years.

Inflation has risen 12.2 percent since Biden took office, gas prices have surged 109 percent, and a massive trail of misuse of tax dollars has been exposed.

I want to thank the Chairman for agreeing to hold this oversight hearing. We have been asking for it. And yet, this oversight hearing is undercut by the fact that President Biden’s “Rescue Czar” Gene Sperling and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are not here.

Mr. Chairman, as you know, I sent you a letter requesting you add a second panel of Executive Branch witnesses for this hearing so Mr. Sperling and Secretary Yellen could answer the questions they have thus far ignored about when and where they handed out all this money.

I ask unanimous consent to submit this letter for the record.

Mr. Sperling was appointed to oversee the implementation of this $2 trillion boondoggle. Secretary Yellen’s Department is responsible for administering over $1 trillion worth of its programs and benefits. Many of these made it more rewarding to stay out of the workforce in 2021 than seek gainful employment, worsening the labor and supply chain problems we see today.

For over a year, we have cataloged numerous examples of ridiculous waste of federal tax dollars from the American Rescue Plan:

  • $1,400 stimulus checks going to Japanese citizens living in Japan
  • $783 million worth of stimulus checks to prisoners
  • $2 million spent to purchase a ski area
  • $140 million for a luxury hotel development in Florida
  • $20 million to modernize fish hatcheries in Maine
  • $4 million for a bird sanctuary
  • $2 million for a golf course
Sounds like a lot. But there’s more:
  • $15 million of taxpayer dollars to help develop a venue in New Jersey to host the 2026 World Cup
  • $7 million to social media influencers to promote seafood
  • $2 million to plant trees in New York
  • $5 million for a moonshine walking trail
  • $7 million for horse racing in Arizona
  • $250,000 for pickleball courts
  • $800,000 for luxury apartments in Connecticut
  • And $4 million for beach bathrooms and parking lots in South Carolina
The list goes on.

An estimated $400 billion has been lost to fraud.

So, what did American families get? Higher prices and lower real wages. Inflation began to rise to the fastest rate in 40 years the month after Democrats passed their $2 trillion bill. Real wages under Biden are down 4.2 percent.

The economy shrank 1.5 percent in the first quarter of 2022, 4.4 percentage points lower than where CBO said it should be prior to the American Rescue Plan. The labor force participation rate is still below pre-COVID levels. The deficit in 2021 was $517 billion higher than CBO said it would have been before ARPA. At $2.78 trillion, it was the second highest deficit in American history. Interest Rates are rising the fastest in almost 30 years. When Joe Biden took office CBO predicted no rate hikes until 2024.

In February 2021, CBO projected that economic growth would return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of last year and unemployment would continue to decline – all without further federal government stimulus. Despite this, and with $1 trillion in unspent COVID money, Democrats chose to gamble with the financial security of the American people.

Democrats will blame it on Putin, even though inflation had already risen 7.5 percent by the time Russia invaded Ukraine. They will claim inflation is a global problem, ignoring the fact that inflation is higher in American than other developed countries. And their only solution is to spend more.

That our Democrat colleagues are holding this hearing to take a victory lap shows just how out of touch they are with what the American people are facing.

Mr. Chairman, as we said at the time, the American Rescue Plan was the wrong plan, at the wrong time, for all the wrong reasons

I yield back.