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Smith: The original American jobs plan

Smith: The original American jobs plan

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Last week President Joe Biden delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress. He began by acknowledging the success of the COVID-19 vaccine development under the previous administration while touting its rollout under his own. Getting as many Americans as possible vaccinated is a key to reopening and rebuilding the economy across our country, and we should rightfully be proud of how quickly American ingenuity led to this lifesaving development. Unfortunately, Biden’s remarks then moved on to his so-called American Jobs Plan, his wide-ranging proposal that is being sold as an effort to rebuild our infrastructure and get Americans back to work. While I have broad concerns about the size and scope of the president’s spending plans, I am most concerned that he is working rapidly to unwind many of the accomplishments, like regulatory and tax relief, which had our economy at record highs prior to COVID-19.

Under the Trump administration, regulatory relief focused on consistently enforcing existing laws that provided certainty for farmers, ranchers and small businesses, all while protecting the environment and enhancing our conservation efforts. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has been consistently upending these gains. President Donald Trump repealed the Obama-era rule expanding the Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, and replaced it with the “Navigable Waters of the United States” rule, which would allow regulators to protect water appropriately. Now within his first 100 days, Biden has pulled back his predecessor’s rule, and with it unilaterally canceled other items like the Keystone XL pipeline and oil and gas leasing of federal lands and waters, actions that are simply counterproductive. Businesses need to know the rules will be consistently enforced in order to make long-term hiring decisions. This uncertainty hinders that planning at a time when we need to return more Americans to the workforce.

Likewise, Biden’s tax proposals, while framed as an effort to bring “fairness” to our tax code, would ultimately upend the careful balance struck by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that made the United States an attractive place to invest capital with a competitive corporate tax rate while implementing the strongest-ever provisions to prevent companies from cheating the system by moving money and jobs to low-tax countries to avoid U.S. tax bills. While Biden claims his proposals would keep more corporate tax dollars in the U.S., the ultimate result of combining higher rates with more punitive base erosion measures would be discouraging far more capital from moving here.

Despite the difficulty of this past year, America is rebounding. Cities are starting to heal, and businesses are opening again, but we must keep the momentum going by connecting more workers with jobs, returning our children to schools, and safely reopening our nation. In my role on the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to defend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to benefit the American people, and I will provide support for Nebraskans as we aim for an economic revival. We had great success over the past four years regarding the economy, our trade agreements and tax policy, and now it is time we build on those triumphs.

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