Gus Bilirakis: We are facing serious issues: inflation is at a 40 year high, gas prices are through the roof, utility prices are soaring, preventable supply chain disruptions mean store shelves are empty, droves of people are illegally entering our country along the southern border, and we have had a series of embarrassments on the international stage. Instead of addressing these issues, President Biden and Congressional Democrats are doubling down on failed policies and continuing reckless spending. Let me be clear: out-of-control spending fuels inflation.
This week President Biden signed into law an infrastructure bill that cost more than $1 trillion. I support traditional infrastructure: roads, bridges, port and cyber security and an expansion of broadband. However, this bill contained very little funding for those projects. It was full of pork and something they referred to as “human infrastructure,” which really just means it is a slush fund to implement liberal policies outlined in the Green New Deal. It did nothing to solve our supply chain problems, and it isn’t paid for, which means it will increase our debt. I proudly voted against this package.
The second spending bill the Speaker crammed through this week is much worse. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the 2,100 page bill will cost more than $4 trillion and add at least $367 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. There are so many problems with this terrible bill, but I’ll just highlight a few of the most egregious sections:
• It includes new incentives for illegal immigration: It includes amnesty for up to 10 million illegal immigrants and offers them over 100 billion in taxpayer funded benefits. For example, illegal immigrants would be eligible for federal student aid and the enhanced child tax credit. Can you imagine what that is going to do to our border crisis?
• It makes it easier for the IRS to target taxpayers: Creates an $80 billion slush fund to hire an 87,000-IRS-agent army that would be used to carry out the Biden administration’s plan to review every account with more than $10,000 worth of transactions in a year (This applies to all Americans who spend at least $30 per day on average). I certainly don’t think we need to be exponentially increasing the IRS.
• It perpetuates the labor shortage by continuing welfare benefits without work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents at a time where there are 10.4 million job openings— We have more openings than there are people looking for work.
• The most costly provision in the bill isn’t to help Veterans, seniors, children or working class Americans. It is a tax break for the top 1% of Americans. The bill increases the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductibility. 90% of Americans don’t itemize their taxes and won’t see one dollar of savings from this costly provision.
• It will drive up costs on Americans’ utility bills because it includes a tax on natural gas, up to $1,500 per ton, that could cost the American economy an estimated $9.1 billion and eliminate 90,000 American jobs. This will have a negative impact on all Americans who consume electricity, not just those making over $400,000 annually as the White House claims.
• It includes a $2.5 billion slush fund, sending tax dollars to radical environmental groups to plant trees and advance “tree equity.” I’m not even certain I know what tree equity even means.
• It includes innovation-killing Socialist Price Controls by instituting a government price-setting of prescription drugs which has shown to be likely to lead to significantly decreased private investment in new cures.
• It spends $2.5 billion for “Community-based Violence Intervention initiatives” which could be used to deny individuals the exercise of the 2nd Amendment without due process.
• It weakens our position by increasing energy dependence on OPEC, Russia and China: The bill includes mineral and energy withdrawals on federal lands and overturns provisions included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that authorized energy production in the Arctic that will result in 130,000 Americans losing their jobs and $440 billion in lost federal revenue
• It increases out of pocket costs for those who rely on prescription drugs: The bill will repeal the Trump-era Rebate Rule which passes through rebates directly to consumers at the point of sale, and
• It also removes Hyde protections that keep your tax dollars from paying for abortions.
This package does nothing to help fix our current problems. It will only make them worse. It’s a bad bill, and I voted no. However, the Speaker did garner enough votes for it to pass the House. My only hope is that common sense will prevail in the United States Senate.
It seems as though this Administration will not rest until they control every aspect of our lives: from decisions about our finances, healthcare, energy consumption, and the education of our children. It is one attack after another on these basic individual freedoms- many of which are included in this radical spending package. We cannot cede our freedoms. I will keep pushing back and fighting for you on these important issues.
Getting Things Done for You
Five bills I have authored passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. These bills now head to the House Floor for final passage. With so much dysfunction taking place in Washington lately, it is refreshing to see commonsense bipartisan solutions moving forward.
These bills will make a positive impact on the lives of millions of Americans and I urge my colleagues to join me in pushing them across the finish line. The bills are listed below, and you can click here to learn more about how they will benefit our country.
The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act combats the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products.
• The Restoring Brand USA Act will help the travel and tourism industry rebound by enticing international visitors to the U.S.
• The Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act will improve maternal health, especially in rural areas.
• The Spectrum Coordination Act will improve effectiveness of government systems and encourage innovation through modernization of spectrum policies.
• The Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act will raise awareness about the importance of oral health in underserved areas.
Sounding the Alarm on Inflation
Inflation means we are all paying more for everything. Out-of-control government spending fuels inflation. The proposed spending bill will only make the problem worse. Record inflation and supply chain issues are negatively impacting American families this holiday season. Read my column on how the Turkey tax will hurt Americans this year.
In another sign of rampant inflation, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline is now $3.41, which 61% higher than it was a year ago. Make no mistake about it, this self-made energy crisis is fueled by Democrats’ failed energy policies and ridiculous spending spree.