February 22, 2021

Smith Opening Statement: Markup of Democrat FY21 Reconciliation Bill

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Chairman – thank you for convening today’s mark-up. I look forward to a thoughtful and productive discussion today – particularly given that this is the first opportunity this committee as a committee has had to participate in the FY21 budget process.

But turning to the legislation before us today – simply put: this is the wrong plan, at the wrong time, and for all the wrong reasons.

It is the wrong plan because this bill will directly harm America’s working class. It sends $510 billion to state and local governments that only further rewards state lockdowns. These lockdowns do not just hit a business’s bottom-line or a family’s pocketbook. When you board up local small businesses, force kids out of school and parents out of work, close houses of worship – that can do real harm to the physical and mental health of individuals and families.

It is the wrong plan because the bill spends $471 billion on policies that will reduce employment and destroy jobs. There has been a lot of attention paid to the $15 Washington mandate in this bill and whether Democrats will shred the reconciliation process in order to force it through. That is certainly concerning. But also concerning is how this policy would destroy millions of jobs – at least 1.4 million according to the Congressional Budget Office – and disproportionately harm low-wage workers, disabled workers, and less educated workers.

It is the wrong plan because also packed into that $471 billion is an expansion of unemployment insurance to the point where more than half of Americans would earn more from unemployment benefits than work. More Obamacare subsidies that CBO has said will lead to fewer hours worked. This bill would even establish a form of universal basic income, which will again lead to Americans working less.

It is the wrong plan because it will raise consumer prices – hurting millions of working-class Americans and those living on fixed incomes, especially the 31 million seniors who get half or more of their income from Social Security. This bill will force those seniors to have to decide between necessities like food and heating their homes or the medicines they need to stay healthy.

This is the wrong plan for America’s working-class.

It also comes at the wrong time. CBO tells us that absent any further stimulus spending, the U.S. economy will return to a pre-pandemic level of real GDP growth by the middle of this year. Unemployment will also continue to steadily decline, and this year we are poised for the largest economic growth in more than 15 years – again, this year.

It is the wrong time for this plan because the sheer size of the spending has even Democrat economists questioning the wisdom. Larry Summers – Treasury Secretary to President Clinton and economic adviser to President Obama – has raised concerns, noting that the level of spending would be “at least three times the size of the output shortfall” in our economy.

It is the wrong time because if this bill becomes law, Congress will have enacted almost $6 trillion in stimulus – that is greater than the GDP of every nation on Earth except the U.S. and China. And of what Congress has already enacted over the past year, an estimated $1 trillion has not even been spent.

So now we know it is the wrong plan at the wrong time – but it is also for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s be real: less than 9 percent of the spending in this bill goes to crushing the COVID-19 virus and putting shots in peoples arms. The real reason for this bill is to send billions to bailout blue state governors and reward their harmful lockdown policies; billions for policies that satisfy the President’s political allies and their agenda. Even the billions they have put in here for schools, which they say are needed to reopen schools – less than 5% will be spent this fiscal year. So, when do they plan to reopen schools?

Mr. Chairman – this is the wrong plan at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons.

Thank you.