Rob’s Rundown: Week of July 12 - July 16, 2021
Senator Portman was back in Washington this week helping lead negotiations on the bipartisan infrastructure framework. Portman joined Fox Business’ Varney & Co Tuesday morning to discuss the historic agreement and outline his opposition to Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal. In an interview with Kudlow Thursday afternoon, Portman explained why the bipartisan agreement will not worsen inflation, but rather will lower costs for businesses, spur economic growth, boost productivity, and ultimately lead to a more efficient and prosperous economy. Portman also published a Letter to the Editor in the Wall Street Journal highlighting the wide-ranging positive impact the bipartisan infrastructure agreement will have on our economy.
On Tuesday, Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor in which he discussed the bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CODEL) he participated in last week to four countries across Latin America – Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Guatemala. Portman highlighted the challenges he and his fellow senators discussed with leaders of these four countries, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, migration, combating corruption, and narcotics trafficking. Portman also discussed the areas of opportunity with Latin America, particularly with regard to increasing trade and economic development as a driver of stability for the region.
In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Portman touted the positive impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and highlighted recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis indicating that – thanks to the tax overhaul – the federal government will bring in significantly more money than previously estimated for 2022. Portman went on to make the case that raising taxes on families and job creators – as Democrats’ intend to do in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal – will reverse the progress and undermine the prosperity brought about by the tax cuts.
During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Portman pressed Ed Gonzalez, nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on his decision, as Sheriff for Harris County, to terminate a long-standing program, 287G, which allows trained local law enforcement to partner with ICE to cooperate on removing dangerous criminal migrants from the United States. Portman highlighted the importance of establishing and maintaining partnerships between ICE and state and local law enforcement to bolster effectiveness in executing the ICE mission to protect Americans from criminal unlawful migrants and cross-border crime, especially as the country faces the worst crisis at our southern border in at least two decades.
Finally, Portman released a statement Wednesday calling on Americans at the local, state, and federal level to redouble efforts to combat the national drug and addiction epidemic. This comes as the CDC released preliminary data showing that more than 93,331 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2020, a record high.
For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Monday, July 12, 2021
Portman Calls for Redoubled Efforts to Address Addiction in United States to Help Combat Drug Trade After Visiting Central and South America
Portman recently concluded a multi-day, bipartisan congressional delegation (CODEL) to Central and South America where he met with leaders in government, business, and civil society to discuss the shared challenges and opportunities between the United States and Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador. In particular, Portman, who has long been a leader in Congress on the issue of prescription and illicit drug abuse and addiction in the United States, heard repeatedly about the domestic security challenges posed by dangerous and well-organized drug cartels operating in these countries – the same cartels that produce many of the lethal drugs, like fentanyl, that have contributed to the addiction crisis in the United States.
Portman issued the following statement calling for more action in the United States to address the addiction crisis and help lessen the demand that sustains these dangerous cartels that are destabilizing our regional allies in Central and South America:
“I appreciated the opportunity to join my bipartisan colleagues on this important trip to visit some of our closest allies in Central and South America and discuss some of the most critical issues we face together. In particular, I was struck by the reports I heard in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador about the impact of the global drug trade on the internal security situation in those countries. Addictive and lethal drugs that ravage communities in Ohio and across the U.S. are often produced in these countries by dangerous and well-organized cartels that operate using campaigns of violence and terror that affect ordinary, law-abiding families. I brought up the issue of stopping fentanyl and interdicting the shipment of its precursors with the heads of state in every country I visited. I impressed on them the importance of working together to stop the production of this deadly drug, which has killed so many Americans.
“As we look for ways to solve this international challenge, we must recognize that addressing the demand for these drugs here in the United States is just as important as addressing the supply side in Latin America. The steps we take here in America to turn the tide of addiction and lessen the demand for these dangerous drugs will have a real and lasting impact on our partners in ending this transnational criminal activity by cutting off these cartels from a particularly lucrative market. I will continue to work to pass bipartisan legislation like my CARA 3.0 to provide the resources we need to combat drug addiction in the United States and help weaken the criminal groups that pose a threat to us and our allies in Central and South America.”
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
On Fox Business, Portman Discusses Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, Protests in Cuba
This morning on Fox Business’ Varney & Co, Senator Portman joined host Stuart Varney to discuss the current bipartisan infrastructure package, including real core infrastructure, with no tax increases. Senator Portman addressed Senator Bernie Sanders’ support for the president’s $6 trillion infrastructure proposal, saying that the proposal is not about infrastructure, but about social spending that will put more pressure on inflation. The Labor Department released their latest inflation report today, showing that inflation continued to surge in the month on June, rising at its fastest pace in nearly 13 years.
Senator Portman also addressed the protests against the Communist Party of Cuba that have broken out in recent days. Senator Portman urged the U.S. to strongly support the people of Cuba in their calls for freedom from the communist regime, as well as for stability and security.
The interview can be viewed here.
Portman, Sinema, Sullivan, Manchin Introduce Bill to Improve Federal Permitting Process, Create Jobs
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act, a bill to improve the federal permitting process for some of the largest infrastructure projects and build on efforts to update this process in 2015.
In 2015, Senator Portman and then-Senator Claire McCaskill co-authored the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which Congress ultimately enacted into law as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That law, now known as FAST-41, significantly reformed the federal infrastructure permitting process while leaving environmental protections in place. Most significantly, it created the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council), which brings together agencies at the start of the permitting process for some of the largest, most complicated infrastructure projects (covered projects) to write out a comprehensive plan for the permitting process across agencies. The public can track the permitting progress for each of those projects at www.permits.performance.gov.
“FAST-41 improved the federal permitting process to promote expansion, economic growth, and the hiring of American workers right here at home,” said Portman. “We need to make this program permanent, apply it to more federal projects to ensure they get done on time and under budget, and expand the authority of the Permitting Council to see to it that those things happen. This bipartisan bill will help update our aging infrastructure and create good jobs while expanding transparency in the permitting process and promoting better coordination between federal agencies. I urge my colleagues to join in supporting this bipartisan bill that is good for jobs, the economy, and the environment.”
Portman Announces OMB Decision to Cancel Proposed Change to Metropolitan Area Standards Thus Protecting Communities from Across Ohio
Portman announced that following his efforts to ensure fairness for smaller metropolitan areas, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has canceled a proposed change that would have increased the population threshold for metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000. Communities in Ohio and across the United States count on this designation for federal funding that goes towards important programs. The proposal would have threatened access to vital federal resources for nearly 150 communities across the country, including five in Ohio. Communities in Ohio that would have been affected by this change include Lima, Mansfield, Springfield, as well as the Weirton-Steubenville and Wheeling, WV-OH metropolitan areas. Today’s announcement follows Portman’s introduction of the bipartisan Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization Act to help protect communities across the country from the possible consequences of the proposed change. Last month, community leaders across Ohio voiced their support for the bipartisan Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization (MAPS) Act.
“I’m pleased to announce that the White House Office of Management and Budget has canceled the January 2021 proposal to double the minimum population threshold for metropolitan statistical areas that would have impacted hundreds of cities across the United States, including several in my home state of Ohio, and potentially jeopardize much-needed federal resources from reaching communities that depend on them,” said Senator Portman. “Thanks to our hard work and the widespread support for the bipartisan MAPS Act, which would have required OMB to provide a public report to Congress estimating the county-level impact and justifying the scientific basis for any proposed change to an existing statistical area standard, we have protected communities across Ohio and the entire country.”
On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses Bipartisan Trip to Latin America, Highlights Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperation and Development
Portman recapped the bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CODEL) he participated in last week to four countries across Latin America – Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Guatemala. Portman, the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, highlighted the challenges he and his fellow senators discussed with leaders of these four countries, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, unlawful migration, combating corruption and narcotics trafficking. Portman also discussed the areas of opportunity with Latin America, particularly with regard to increasing trade and economic development as a driver of stability for the region. Portman concluded by urging his colleagues to remain engaged with the region, which is vital to U.S. interests.
A video of his remarks can be found here.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Portman, Hassan Applaud Committee Passage of the Pray Safe Act to Ensure Faith-Based Organizations and Houses of Worship Have Access to Key Information & Security Best Practices
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) applauded the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing their bipartisan Pray Safe Act to establish a federal clearinghouse through which faith-based organizations and houses of worship could access information on safety and security best practices, available federal grant programs, and training opportunities. The Pray Safe Act is cosponsored by Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
“I applaud the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing the bipartisan Pray Safe Act because we must ensure that faith-based organizations and houses of worship have the resources, assistance, and training they need to secure their facilities in the face of unnecessary violence that has tragically become increasingly common,” said Senator Portman. “The threats and senseless attacks on faith-based organizations and houses of worship we’ve seen across our country are attacks on our values and this bipartisan legislation will give our faith-based institutions in Ohio and across our country the resources and information they need to protect themselves.”
Portman, Peters Applaud Senate Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Clawbacks of Assistance to Disaster Victims
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, applauded the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing their bipartisan Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, legislation that prevents the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from taking back assistance it has provided to victims of disaster due to an error made by the agency. Weeks, months, and sometimes years after victims have used federal assistance to recover from a disaster, FEMA has sought to reclaim funds, even when the agency was at fault and funds were used appropriately. The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act would require FEMA to waive the debt of disaster relief recipients in cases where the agency later determined it mistakenly granted assistance, but no fraud was committed. The bill would also require FEMA to report on the number of these mistakes made in individual assistance awards and efforts the agency takes to minimize such errors.
“When victims of a disaster apply for assistance in good faith and begin rebuilding their lives, they should not fear that FEMA might claw back the money due to bureaucratic mistakes,” said Ranking Member Portman. “I applaud the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, which will bring peace of mind and stability to victims by ensuring bureaucratic mistakes do not bring more trauma to those recovering from devastating disasters. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this commonsense legislation to safeguard hardworking Americans who have already faced a life-altering disaster.”
Portman Letter to Wall Street Journal Highlights Economic Benefits of Bipartisan Infrastructure Proposal
Senator Portman wrote a letter to the editor in The Wall Street Journal highlighting the bipartisan infrastructure proposal he is helping to write and how it will help the economy grow. This is in response to a Wall Street Journal article arguing that building new highways will not benefit the economy. As Senator Portman notes, the bipartisan infrastructure proposal is not just about improving our highway system, which will lead to greater economic efficiency, but also about broad investment in ports, freight rail, bridges, and other critical infrastructure like broadband. This approach will improve productivity, and as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has found, the infrastructure plan will grow the economy, lift wages, and reduce the federal debt in the long term. The full letter to the editor can be found here.
Portman Statement on DOJ IG Report Detailing FBI’s Failure to Investigate USA Gymnastics Sexual Abuses & Ensuing Cover-up
Portman released the following statement regarding his concerns with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) investigation of Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics and FBI’s ensuing cover-up, following a review by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG). The report, issued this afternoon by the DOJ IG, details how the FBI agents failed to adequately investigate an early complaint of sexual abuse of children by Larry Nassar, “during [which] time, Nassar’s sexual assaults continued” and then attempted to cover-up the failure to investigate and lied to the IG and senior FBI officials about the investigation. Additionally, the report revealed that the Special Agent in Charge of the Indianapolis field office that received the complaint from the head of USA Gymnastics had applied for a job at USA Gymnastics while the FBI’s investigation was still pending, and discussed the potential for FBI to issue a favorable statement about USA Gymnastics. When the IG referred these matters to the DOJ for prosecution, the department declined to prosecute the FBI officials in question.
“I am deeply concerned that the FBI may have been in a position to prevent some of the heinous acts of sexual abuse against these women and children and give them some measure of justice, but instead failed to act. Our own federal government allowed innocent women and children to be subjected to sexual abuse. I am also troubled by the Inspector General’s finding that FBI officials covered up their failure to investigate and later lied about it to the Inspector General. Most troubling, the Department of Justice has declined to prosecute these FBI officials who knowingly allowed sexual abuse of women and children to continue. The administration owes the American public an explanation for why they are not standing up for the victims of sexual abuse and holding these FBI officials accountable.”
Portman: Staggering Number of Overdose Deaths Underscores Need for Decisive Action to Address Worsening Addiction Crisis
Porman released the following statement after the CDC released preliminary data today showing that more than 93,331 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2020, a record high.
“The overdose figures released today are as stunning as they are heartbreaking. Never could I have imagined that 93,331 Americans would lose their lives to drug overdoses in a single year. My heart goes out to the countless parents who have lost a loved one to a drug overdose. To the communities that have been torn apart from within. And to the brave law enforcement officers and first responders on the front lines of this epidemic.
“This crisis is not a new one. Opioid and drug addiction has plagued our nation for decades and we have been working extremely hard at the local, state, and federal level to combat it. And we were making progress. My home state of Ohio, for instance, saw a 22 percent reduction in Ohio overdose deaths in 2018. Sadly, with the release of today’s data, it is abundantly clear that the drug and addiction epidemic is not only resurgent, but far worse than ever before.
“This tragic death toll must serve as a resounding wake-up call and a catalyst for immediate action. Congress should start by passing my CARA 3.0 – sweeping, bipartisan legislation that will bolster evidence-based programs, expand treatment options, and provide communities with the resources they need to save lives. The Biden administration must also take immediate action to secure our southern border and stop the flow of fentanyl pouring into our nation. The drug and addiction crisis is raging in America once again. We must take decisive and immediate action to address it. Tens of thousands of American lives are on the line.”
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Top Economists: Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework Does Not Worsen Inflation
Inflation is surging at the fastest clip in more than a decade. On Tuesday, the Labor Department released their latest Core Consumer Price Index reading, showing that inflation surged to 5.4 percent year-over-year in the month on June, rising at its fastest pace in nearly 13 years. This continued rise in prices has led many to worry that big spending packages, such as the multi-trillion-dollar package proposed by the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats, could lead to even more inflation. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum, and Michael Strain, Director of Economic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, examined the proposed bipartisan infrastructure package and concluded that it would not cause an increase in inflation.
The two argued that for inflation to increase, a spending package would have to increase demand, or services. For example, President Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion spending package contains trillions in social spending, which will add to the demand side and put pressure on inflation. The bipartisan infrastructure plan does just the opposite – core infrastructure provides supply, or goods. Furthermore, they say that most of the spending in the bipartisan proposal would occur after 2022 and after the current inflation concerns will have likely subsided. Their explanation can be found here.
Portman, Peters Bipartisan Legislation to Protect FEMA Reservists' Jobs During Disaster Response Advances in Senate
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced the unanimous approval by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee of their Civilian Reservist Emergency Workforce Act to protect Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reservists from losing their full-time employment when they are called up to assist communities with disaster response has advanced in the Senate. FEMA reservists are temporary, on-call, and intermittent employees who are essential to the agency’s mission to quickly respond to disasters, but they currently lack employment protections that ensure they will be able to return to their full-time jobs once their disaster response mission is complete.
“FEMA Reservists should be protected from any disadvantage or discrimination due to their service and that’s why I’m proud the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed this bipartisan bill to extend Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protections to FEMA reservists. This bipartisan bill will improve the retention of these highly skilled emergency responders while also strengthening the agency’s readiness to respond to major disasters,” said Ranking Member Portman. “It is not only the right thing to do but comes as our country is facing a record high number of disasters where these reservists are needed the most.”
Portman: ICE Will Be Dealing with the Ramifications of this Border Crisis for Many Years to Come
Portman delivered opening remarks at hearing on the nominations of Robert L. Santos to be Director of the U.S. Census Bureau and Ed Gonzalez to be Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In his opening statement, Portman highlighted the importance of the Census Bureau providing timely and accurate data to state and local governments that depend on it for federal funding and redistricting purposes.
Portman also stressed the need for ICE to work with state, local, and federal entities to address the worst crisis at our southern border that we’ve had in at least two decades. Portman has consistently made clear that the current crisis at the southern border is a direct result of the Biden administration’s dismantling of the previous administration’s policies with no consideration of the ramifications of removing those policies and how it would incentivize unlawful migration. In his remarks, he pointed out that since the Biden administration came into office, the numbers of unaccompanied children and all unlawful migrants have increased every month, while ICE arrests and deportations of migrants who do not receive asylum are at historic lows, which encourages more unlawful migrants to cross our southern border. Avideo can be found here.
Portman Op-Ed for the Washington Examiner: 2017 Tax Reforms Continue to Pay Dividends
In a new op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Senator Portman highlights the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis indicating that – thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – the federal government will bring in significantly more money than previously estimated for 2022.
The 2017 tax overhaul – which Portman played a key role in authoring – had a profound and immediate impact on the U.S. economy. It led to higher wages, historically low unemployment, increased domestic investment, and stronger economic growth.
In his op-ed, Portman makes the case that raising taxes on families and job creators – as Democrats’ yearn to do in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal – will reverse the progress and undermine the prosperity brought about by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The full op-ed can be found here.
Portman Presses ICE Nominee on State & Local Partnerships, Decrease in ICE Arrests Under Biden Administration
Portman pressed Ed Gonzalez, nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, on his decision, while serving as then-Sheriff for Harris County, to terminate a long-standing program, 287G, which allows trained local law enforcement to partner with ICE to cooperate on removing dangerous criminal migrants from the United States. Portman highlighted the importance of establishing and maintaining partnerships between ICE and state and local law enforcement to bolster effectiveness in executing the ICE mission to protect Americans from criminal unlawful migrants and cross-border crime, especially as the country faces the worst crisis at our southern border in at least two decades.
In addition, Robert Santos, the nominee to be Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, would not commit to Senator Portman that if confirmed, he would ensure that the Census Bureau would meet the agreed deadline to provide redistricting data to Ohio. Portman stressed the importance of the Census Bureau providing timely and accurate data to state and local governments that depend on it for federal funding and redistricting purposes. A video can be found here.
National Business Leaders Support Portman’s Bipartisan Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act to Improve Federal Permitting Process & Create Jobs
National business leaders have expressed support for the bipartisan Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act (S. 2324), led by Senators Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are original cosponsors of this legislation to improve the federal permitting process for some of the largest infrastructure projects and build on efforts to update this process started in 2015.
In 2015, Senator Portman and then-Senator Claire McCaskill co-authored the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, which Congress ultimately enacted into law as Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That law, now known as FAST-41, significantly reformed the federal infrastructure permitting process while leaving environmental protections in place. Most significantly, it created the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, which brings together agencies at the start of the permitting process for some of the largest, most complicated infrastructure projects (covered projects) to write out a comprehensive plan for the permitting process across agencies. The public can track the permitting progress for each of those projects at www.permits.performance.gov.
The list of national business leaders supporting the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act can be found here.
On FOX Business, Portman Outlines How Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill With Massive Tax Hikes Will Hurt The Economy
Senator Portman joined FOX Business’ Kudlow to outline his concerns with the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal and discuss the bipartisan infrastructure agreement he is helping lead. Portman explained why the bipartisan agreement will not worsen inflation, but rather will lower costs for businesses, spur economic growth, boost productivity, and ultimately lead to a more efficient and prosperous economy.
In addition, Portman touted a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis indicating that – thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – the federal government will bring in significantly more money than previously estimated for 2022. The 2017 tax overhaul – which Portman played a key role in authoring – had a profound and immediate impact on the U.S. economy, leading to higher wages, historically low unemployment, and stronger economic growth. Portman made the case that raising taxes on families and job creators – as Democrats will have to do to fund their $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal – will reverse the progress and undermine the prosperity brought about by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A video can be found here.
A recent, little-noticed update on federal revenue projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is yet another reason to reject the massive tax increases proposed by the Biden administration.
CBO estimated that going forward federal taxes will bring in significantly more money than previously estimated. In 2022, CBO now projects a 10% increase in revenues. This is particularly good news because tax rates haven’t gone up, meaning that this increased revenue is another sign that our economy is getting back to its pre-pandemic strength. It also reminds us that the 2017 tax reforms and tax cuts that helped create the historically strong pre-pandemic economy are working as intended and must remain in place as we move into the future.
In the two years before COVID-19 hit, the pro-growth policies former President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress put in place through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helped fuel record growth in jobs and wages. The month before the pandemic was the 19th straight month of wage growth above 3%, with most of the benefit going to middle and low-income workers. This is consistent with a CBO study that found 70% of corporate tax cuts end up going into workers’ wages and benefits. Before the pandemic, we also tied the 50-year low in unemployment at 3.5% and had historic lows in unemployment for blacks and Hispanics. We also reached the lowest poverty rate, 10.5%, in the more than 60 years we have tracked the statistic. The 2017 tax cuts led to both a stronger and more equitable economy.
The 2017 reforms Trump signed also helped the U.S. compete globally and stopped the corporate inversions that were a recurring problem during the Obama administration and the first year of the Trump administration, causing American companies to become foreign companies and move jobs and investment overseas to get out from under our uncompetitive tax laws. And it ended the lockout effect, resulting in $1.6 trillion in overseas earnings coming back home to invest and create jobs here. As a result of those changes, the largest U.S. companies increased domestic research and development spending by 25%, to $707 billion, and capital expenditures by 20%, to $1.44 trillion. The tax cuts and tax reforms worked as intended, and based on this new CBO study, continue to work as we come out of the pandemic.
Despite the challenges of the past year, the fundamentals of our economy remained strong. In fact, CBO projected in January that without additional government help — for example, the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion spending package that passed Congress in March with no Republican support — the economy would fully recover by midyear, which it by and large has done with regard to gross domestic product, even as much of that spending has not yet gone out.
A Wall Street Journal consensus survey of economists at the beginning of the year similarly projected strong economic growth. Payroll tax revenue has risen by 4% as well, suggesting that workers are taking home bigger paychecks than before. Although unemployment levels have not completely returned to pre-pandemic levels, we know that many of the policies that Democrats have supported (to keep schools closed and provide millions of Americans with generous unemployment insurance supplements that pay them more not to work than they would at their jobs) have contributed to this worker shortage.
The opportunity economy we had pre-COVID worked for working families across America. We cannot allow the Biden administration and some Democrats in Congress to reverse course by massively increasing taxes. President Joe Biden’s budget proposal would allow nearly all of the 2017 tax cuts to expire, including raising business taxes, which would stifle economic growth and hurt working families.
Raising taxes on hard-working American families and businesses is the wrong approach to continued economic growth. Instead, we should build on the positive progress over the two years pre-pandemic by making a targeted investment in helping our economy grow without raising taxes. Right now, I am working with a bipartisan group of colleagues in Congress to do just that through a historic investment to upgrade our core infrastructure needs: the roads, bridges, railroads, ports, broadband, and more that help drive our economy every day. According to the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, our proposal will increase GDP, raise wages for workers, and lower our national debt in the long term, all without raising any individual or corporate income taxes on families and businesses.
In 2017, we helped usher in an economy powered by workers and businesses across the country, not by liberal spending priorities in Washington, and the results were truly historic. Moving ahead, let’s stay the course instead of hiking taxes and putting a damper on American prosperity and opportunity.
Regarding “The Outlook: Highway Dollars Won’t Rev Up Economy” (U.S. News, July 6): The infrastructure framework is not only about highways, but a broad investment in ports, freight rail, bridges and other critical infrastructure that is in need of repair and replacement. Building out broadband networks can expand productivity and connect the country virtually, much as the Interstate Highway System did decades ago. Of the roughly 10% to 15% of the funding that would go toward highways and roads, most is for repairing existing highways to reduce congestion, leading to more economic efficiency, rather than building new roads.
The article quotes a University of Pennsylvania economist to suggest that our framework won’t add to productivity. But a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School analyzing our broad framework found that it would result in long-term GDP growth while lifting workers’ wages and even reducing the deficit over time. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in key infrastructure priorities that will make our economy more efficient and competitive.