Lankford Says Oklahomans Are Feeling the Effects of Inflation, “Build Back Better” Will Make It Worse
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the Democrats’ 2,000-page, $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” proposal, which Biden claims is “paid for” but actually uses budget gimmicks to keep taxpayers on the hook and add to the debt.
Lankford’s remarks highlighted that the bill has been through numerous iterations since the left and the far-left Democrats can’t agree on the many outstandingly bad provisions in it that will add to our debt, hurt American families, and further cripple our economy. In fact, Lankford pointed out that Oklahomans are already paying $175 more a month on utilities and other necessities because of Biden’s inflation from the previous $2 trillion in “COVID relief” in March.
Lankford addressed numerous bad provisions in the bill, which includes tax increases on families and businesses, $100 billion for immigration, with no details for what that really means, more than $500 billion for their climate change agenda, and numerous provisions to expand abortion under Medicaid and Affordable Care Act plans, which Lankford has already spoken out strongly against.
Lankford pointed out that although the bill has been sold as helping low- and middle-income families, it contains several provisions, like an increase to the cap on state and local tax (known as “SALT”) deductions to $72,500, which clearly benefits the wealthy. The bill includes an electric vehicle (EV) tax credit valued at up to $12,500 per expensive vehicle, $4,500 of which would only be available if the qualifying vehicle had its final assembly in a US facility operating under a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement.
The proposal includes $2.5 billion for US Postal Service EVs, even as Biden is forcing FedEx and UPS to fire employees for his COVID-19 vaccine mandate while USPS is exempt from it. The bill includes a controversial methane fee and allocates $4.2 billion a program previously called the “Civilian Climate Corps.”
We continue to be able to walk towards a $2 trillion proposal that's coming. We hear the House is taking it up even in the next 24 to 48 hours. Of course we have heard that over and over again lately. There has been a real concern about what's happening in the economy because of rising inflation. Oklahomans are paying $175 more a month right now for their basic utilities, groceries, and gallons of gas, $175 more a month that they are paying because of the rise in inflation that's happened this year. That inflation, you can take it right back to the middle of March when a $2 trillion package was passed in this body on a straight partisan vote, that everyone on this side of the aisle would say, ‘Don't do this. This would cause rising inflation,’ and it was done anyway.
As simple as I can state it, it was if you add a lot of extra money and you discourage people from working, you will get fewer products and more buyers. It's not hard to be able to see what's going to happen as a result of that. Larry Summers, who used to be my Democrat colleagues' favorite economist, he was a national economic council director for President Obama. He has been a very outspoken, progressive economist. He wrote in February, challenging this body not to do that $2 trillion package, saying this, ‘There is a risk of inflation expectations rising sharply. Stimulus measures of the magnitude contemplated are steps into the unknown. For credibility, they need to be accompanied by clear statements of the consequences, that they will be monitored closely.’
At that same time in February, he said based on the proposal that's out there, there will be an individual that normally has $22,000 worth of normal income in a year that will move to $30,000 in benefits for the year, and that will cause problems. And boy has it.
Employment all over the country has had all kinds of chaotic moments where employers are trying to hire employees and they are making more on benefits than they are at work, and it's caused all sorts of chaos across our economy. It's interesting, several progressive economists in March of this year, right after the bill passed, made general statements like, ‘A relief plan is different than a stimulus. It doesn't matter. This is not a stimulus. It's a relief plan, so we can spend as much as we want.’
This was my favorite one of the economists that came out. They said the risk of generalized overheating in the goods market appears low. The risk of generalized overheating in the goods market appears low. That was the statement from progressive economists in March of this year. But yet, the reality is this year there's a backup at the Port of Long Beach, and people can't get supplies all over the country and exactly what was forecast in February and March is occurring in our economy right now.
Larry Summers again identified it this way. He made the statement, ‘A pandemic has punched a roughly $2 billion hole in Americans’ monthly wage income, and Biden has proposed filling it with $100 billion.’ He said, ‘I know the bathtub has been too empty, but one has to think about the capacity of the bathtub and how much water is going to flow into it.’
What do I mean by that? That $2 trillion package that was in March has caused all the economic issues of this year, that's caused all the inflation, all the challenges in employment across our economy and across our workforce is now being followed up apparently by another $2 trillion proposal that's coming in the coming days. If we had giant inflation with the last one—by the way, with the highest inflation rate since 1982—if we had that inflation from that $2 trillion package, what's going to happen when you put another $2 trillion on top of the last $2 trillion in this economy?
The simple fact is, quoting Larry Summers, ‘We don't know what will happen.’ We are literally taking steps into the unknown. But I can tell you, it's not hard to predict. It's just the economic issues.
As I look at this package, and it is hard to be able to look at the package that's being proposed, I've heard quite a few folks back in Oklahoma on the weekends saying to me, ‘What's all in this $2 trillion package that a couple of weeks ago was $3.5 trillion, now we hear it's $2 trillion, what's actually in it?’ I tell them, ‘I’m not sure yet. I hear bits and pieces.’ To tell you how much it's moving around, last week when the package was released to the public, it was 2,400 pages. By this morning, it was 1,700 pages. But wait, now this afternoon it's 2,000 pages long. That's in a week, it's moved from 2,400 pages to 1,700 pages to 2,000 pages as the proposal continues to be able to change over and over again.
It's incredibly difficult to be able to track what all is in it, but we can track some things that are in it. There’s a massive hole that is holding for immigration. As we have seen three different major proposals on immigration on how to be able to give amnesty to the largest number of people. Several have already been knocked down by the Parliamentarian, but it seems to come back again to try to fund a new way to be able to do amnesty for as many people that are here and illegally present in the country as possible. That seems to be a piece of this economic proposal that's out there.
We do know in this proposal that it minds as many ways as possible to be able to fund gaps in Hyde funding. Now, what is that? Using federal dollars to be able to pay for abortions in the country, an agreement that's been in our country since 1976, that we have strong disagreements on a child's life. I happen to believe a child is a child is a child, and every child is valuable, no matter how small they are. Many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don't believe children are valuable until they can see them. They have to be born before they are valuable. I believe there's no difference in a child in the womb and a child outside the womb other than time.
This bill is full of areas to go around the Hyde rules to start allowing the funding with federal dollars to pay for the taking of human life. I'm disappointed how obsessed my Democrat colleagues seem to be about finding new ways to pay for the taking of human life of children. That has not been so even as recently as two years ago. Quite frankly Senator Biden was outspoken about protecting the Hyde protections. Now President Biden and this body seems to be focused on how many ways we can increase abortions in America.
There's a lot of energy aspects in this—a new tax on natural gas. Just five or six years ago we called the bridge fuel to the future, to be able to reduce car bottom. Now natural gas is receiving punishment in this in brand new taxes. There's a block on production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Some of my Democrat colleagues say we're going to cut off and protect anything from that region. It's remarkable.
We're buying more oil from Russia than we are in Alaska, right now, twice as much in fact. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an area 19.3 million square acres, 19.3 million acres. That's about half the size of my home state of Oklahoma. That's an enormously large area. And in that area there's 2,000 acres that would actually be set aside for oil production. So to put it in perspective, ANWR is half the size of my state of Oklahoma, and the oil production area that would be needed is a third of the size of the airport that I fly out. Will Rogers airport in Oklahoma City.
If you took a third of the size of the airport, that's the size of actual oil production area that would be needed in an area half the size of my entire state. Yet that's being blocked in this bill. We'll see the price of energy go up, but we will see a new benefit for electric vehicles that are here. For very, very wealthy Americans, they'll get the benefit of $12,500 on new luxury vehicles they want to purchase as long as they're electric.
There's a direct attacks on school choice in this bill that actually goes after any kind of private institution or faith-based institution. To say you'll get funding for a secular government school for one level, but if you're in a faith-based school, it's a different level or none at all. If you're in a pre-k program, in many rural communities across our state, when you come to Oklahoma in many rural communities, the pre-k program and child care program is run from a local church, but they won't be allowed to be able to be a provider in this. You have to be a secular provider because religious institutions are being blocked out by this bill.
It does supersize the IRS though. It adds $79 billion to the IRS to increase audits. $79 billion. To give you a perspective of how big that is, the normal IRS budget for a year is $12 billion, yet this bill gives an additional $79 billion to the IRS to be able to increase audits. And if anyone has a belief those audits are only going to connect to people that make $400,000 or more, I have a bridge to sell you.
I have to tell you, as I read through the bill, and it does take some time and it's difficult to be able to get through it because it is changing so much. I'm amazed at some of the things that are in it that have been slipped through this. $350 million are being sent to unions to provide electronic voting systems for unions, $350 million. $4.28 billion are being done for training activities and industry sectors and occupations for climate resilience. There's whole sections in this bill as I go through it that are set aside for specific areas: $20 million for state, local tribal governments to mitigate online services to the ‘.gov’ internet domain, to help cities go to the ‘.gov’ internet domain there's $12 million that's set aside.
And there's some set aside for even some of my colleagues that are here today on the floor, $49 million carve-out for native Hawaiian resilience programs in the office of native Hawaiian relations. It depends on the state you're in and the perspective that you're in.
As I go through the bill and start identifying the programs, I hear broad descriptions of different programs. And I hear all this different sales of what's in it. But when you read through the bill, when you go through the details of the bill, this is the kind of stuff that you find.
Oh, by the way, one last piece in this ever changing bill. Just within the last hour and a half, they've added a new section in the bill over on the House side. It's a bill dealing with state and local tax deductions that will help the wealthiest of Americans get a bigger tax cut. Yes, I did say that correctly. Currently for Americans that are in high tax states, they can only deduct $10,000 of their state and local taxes. Only $10,000 off their state and local taxes that they actually deduct from their federal taxes. The new proposal that just came out in the last hour from the House of Representatives increases that to $72,500 in deductions off state and local taxes. That will be a great tax benefit to the wealthiest Americans. $72,500.
All they were asking is show us what the real bill is. Let Americans be able to see the real bill. Have the transparency and the ability to be able to actually track through what this will mean day to day, what this will mean to our economy because we've seen what $2 trillion did to our economy this March. What's another $2 trillion going to mean on top of all of that coming up this fall? I think we are walking into the unknown except this time I think we do know what's about to happen to our economy. We need to see this bill and stop this bill before it damages our economy even more than we've already been damaged.
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