May 17, 2022

Smith Opening Statement: House Budget Committee Member Day Hearing

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It is fair to say the country is in a different place since our last Members Day – and not a good place. Inflation has risen 11 percent since President Biden took office and continues to run at a 40-year high; gas hit its highest price ever this week; over 2.4 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended at the southern border; and now families are facing a national shortage of baby formula.

The President’s signature piece of legislation, the so-called “American Rescue Plan,” was jammed through this Committee before we even had a chance to organize. It added $2 trillion to the deficit and sparked an inflationary fire that has driven a massive rise in prices. Then, a few months later, you were at it again, pushing through the President’s $5 trillion Build Back Broke agenda – the most expensive bill in American history.

But since this is our annual “Members Day” hearing – I’d like to mention the things that Members on our side wish this committee would focus and spend its time on:

Number one – Can we actually debate a budget this year? It’s been over 1,400 days since we marked up a budget resolution in this Committee. Are we going to keep spending without a plan? Will Democrats once again forfeit their responsibility and smuggle topline spending numbers into another bill, so they don’t have to debate them?

Number two – Can we fulfill our obligation under Committee and House Rules to actually hold some Oversight hearings? It is beyond time for this Committee to examine the trail of waste and abuse left behind by the American Rescue Plan. $783 million for checks to prisoners, $40 million for libraries in the President’s home state of Delaware, $2 million for trees in New York, and the list goes on and on.

If we are not doing a budget this year, then perhaps we can use that time to have an oversight hearing on that spending – an idea one of our Democrat colleagues on this Committee agreed was needed at a recent hearing.

Number three – when are we going to talk about the impact mounting debt is having on our budget and American families? The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to deal with the President’s inflation crisis. Higher rates will make it even harder for families to buy a house, small businesses to expand, and farmers to buy equipment. But it will also impact our government’s bottom line.

Earlier this month, I released a report that shows the destructive effects higher interest rates would have on the federal budget. For example, i rates return to their 50-year average, the federal government will be paying $1.3 trillion in interest on our national debt today. If they rise to the levels we saw the last time inflation was this high, today’s interest payments would be $2.6 trillion.

Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to insert the report into the record.

Number four – how about getting to the bottom of the causes and consequences of inflation? President Biden’s strategy of blaming inflation on a new villain every month is failing. First he denied inflation existed, then called it “temporary,” and now it’s Putin’s fault. The truth is that inflation rose 7.5 percent before Putin’s army stepped foot in Ukraine. The real culprit that helped spark inflation, according to economists, was the American Rescue Plan.

Number five  – this committee should examine the billions President Biden is spending through executive orders. The endless student loan moratorium costs $4.3 billion every month. $6 million is being paid every day to DOD contractors to babysit $350 million in unused border wall materials. Taxpayers who are struggling to pay for basic necessities should not be on the hook for these costly executive actions.

These are things this Committee should be focused on.

I yield back.