As Nebraska’s economy continues to grow and unemployment remains low, the national economy is another story. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an increase of 288,000 non-farm jobs in June, reducing the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent. These numbers sound like positive news; however, they do not tell the whole story. About six years after the economic crisis began, our economy still has not fully recovered.
There are now about the same number of Americans working today as before the recession began. Because of population growth we actually have not caught up with pre-recession employment levels. To close the real jobs gap, including jobs lost and to account for population growth, we would need to see average job growth of 374,000 jobs per month for the remainder of President Obama’s term. At the current 12-month average of 203,000 jobs per month, we would not close the real jobs gap until 2018.
The official unemployment rate also does not account for those who have dropped out of the labor force – those who have given up looking for a job altogether. The Labor Force Participation Rate, which measures the number of employed Americans and those looking for work relative to the total population, is at the worst levels since the Carter Administration.
If you include those who have given up looking for a job, or those who never entered the labor force because of lack of opportunity during the recession, the real unemployment rate would be above 10 percent. In fact, during the Obama Administration more working age adults have left the labor force than found new jobs by a ratio of more than 3:1.
This record looks especially bleak when compared with the recovery during the first term of the Reagan Administration. Despite a deep recession beginning during the Carter Administration in the late 1970’s, the economy strongly rebounded. From 1983-1990 the economy grew almost 36 percent and 20 million new American jobs were created.
President Obama promised his policies of massive borrowing and spending would “stimulate” the economy into recovery. So far these promises have fallen flat and the current rate of growth is simply unacceptable. Too many Americans are hurting because they have been limited by an underperforming economy.
House Republicans have passed more than 40 bills to encourage economic growth by reducing the size, scope, and burdens of the federal government. However, the Democratic leadership of the U.S. Senate refuses to act. Perhaps they believe the economy is booming and see no reason to change their policies. However, the truth behind the economic data shows this is not the case. The American people, especially those in need would be better served by solutions to our economic challenges.Read More
Increasing international trade to boost our economy and benefit consumers is a rare bipartisan goal in Washington. However, there is a misconception trade primarily benefits agriculture producers, and large companies. While these groups certainly benefit from open markets, there are many examples in the Third District of small businesses, individuals, and communities who directly or indirectly profit from exports.
For example, Turkey Creek Furs in Crete is a Nebraska company which benefits from exports to China. The company, which employs five people, purchases cattle and deer hides from small processors in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. They then sell the hides to a tanning facility which exports the processed pelts to China. Even though Turkey Creek Furs does not export directly, the demand for their services and the additional opportunities they create for small processors would likely be far less without the ability to export to China.
While many think our trade relationship with China is a one way street, companies like Turkey Creek demonstrate otherwise. Third District companies exported $1.2 billion of goods to China last year. And exports in goods from the Third District to China have increased 33 percent since 2002.
Another example of a small business supported by trade is Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell. Founded in 1980, this second-generation family business is now run by Robert and Peggy Wells. As the name suggests, the company buys wool and spins it into high quality yarn. The yarn is sold at retailers all over the United States and at 43 locations in six foreign countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Brown Sheep supports not only the Wells’ and several employees, but also many local wool producers.
Turkey Creek Furs and Brown Sheep Company are not alone. Third District companies exported more than $5.4 billion of goods in 2013, supporting more than 80,000 jobs. One of the Third District’s fastest growing export categories is agricultural and construction machinery. Exports of these types of machines, such as center pivot irrigation systems, have increased by 21 percent since 2002.
Because of our dynamic rural economy and export market, I have invited Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to host a “Made in Rural America” regional forum in the Third District. A forum in Nebraska’s Third District not only would be valuable to exporters, but also would highlight the importance of looking to new markets and future opportunities to grow our rural economy. I hope Secretary Vilsack, Secretary Pritzker, and Ambassador Froman will consider this invitation.
International trade benefits all Nebraskans. I look forward to highlighting more Third District success stories, and as a Member of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, working to expand new markets for Nebraska products.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith’s (R-NE) released the following statement after the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The Court decided closely-held corporations, such as Hobby Lobby, cannot be forced to comply with Obamacare mandates which violate their religious beliefs.
“Today’s decision is an important victory for religious freedom and conscience rights against the expansion of the federal government into our lives. I applaud the ruling which reverses one of the many overreaches of Obamacare. Certainly, there is more to be done.
“Moving forward we must continue to insist religious freedom is respected for all Americans, and to address the many problems of Obamacare.”
Smith joined with 85 members of the House and Senate in filing an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby.Read More
The investigation into allegations the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted conservative groups for political purposes recently took a surprising turn. The agency now claims it lost two years of e-mails from former IRS official Lois Lerner because her computer hard drive malfunctioned and was recycled. The agency’s failure to immediately report these alleged technical problems to congressional investigators does not lend the IRS any credibility with the American people.
These suspicious claims have rightfully received much attention. The potential destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice must be investigated because it adds to a serious crime the Ways and Means Committee has already referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution. The seriousness of these allegations, the evidence uncovered so far, and now the appearance of misconduct require a special prosecutor to further the investigation.
Abuse of the tax code for political purposes by the IRS, the most feared and powerful agency in the federal government, is simply unacceptable. It goes against everything we expect from a government of, for, and by the people. The IRS has an important mission, and it must do its job fairly and without bias. Even the suggestion of impartiality at the IRS could undermine the agency’s ability to operate.
Through the investigation by the Committee on Ways and Means we now know the targeting was directed primarily at conservative groups. Of the 298 applications for tax-exempt status held up by the IRS, 83 percent were conservative-leaning, and 10 percent were liberal-leaning. We also know Ms. Lerner helped coordinate the targeting as head of the Exempt Organizations Division. We don’t know who, if anyone, told Ms. Lerner to act but this practice was not the work of low-level employees in the Cincinnati, Ohio office as originally reported by the IRS.
When the IRS first admitted to improperly scrutinizing political groups more than a year ago, there was bipartisan outrage and broad agreement the situation must be fully investigated and never allowed to happen again. President Obama even said “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.”
Recently, some of my Democratic colleagues have been more interested in seeing this investigation go away, and have criticized our efforts as political theatre. If they truly believe this to be the case, these individuals should support our calls for an independent prosecutor in this case. Many Democrats joined with Republicans in voting for a resolution calling on the Department of Justice to appoint a special prosecutor; however, the Department has so far refused to do so.
Regardless of the party in power, no one deserves to be singled out by the IRS for their First Amendment rights to free speech and expression. It is critical we find out what happened so the responsible parties can be held accountable, the credibility of the IRS can be restored, and we can implement reforms to make sure this never happens again.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) welcomed Thomas Hoxmeier of Orleans, the Third District winner of the 2014 Congressional Art Competition, to view his work, “Then There Were Three,” in Washington, D.C. Thomas is a student at Southern Valley High School in Oxford, NE. His painting will hang in the U.S. Capitol for one year.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will hold an open house at his Scottsbluff office on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 to meet with veterans, current members of the military, and their families.
“Veterans, our men and women in uniform, and their families have made sacrifices to defend our freedom,” said Smith. “As chairman of the Rural Veterans Caucus, I am very concerned about recent reports of long VA waiting times and secret waitlists, as well as continued efforts to close the VA facility in Hot Springs. I look forward to hearing from local veterans to discuss these and other issues important to them.”
The event is open to the media and the public. Details are as follows:
Who: Congressman Adrian Smith, veterans, members of the military, and their families.
What: Open House for Veterans with Congressman Adrian Smith
When: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. MDT
Where: Congressman Smith’s Scottsbluff Office
416 Valley View Drive, Suite 600
Scottsbluff, NERead More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today called on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to fully cooperate with congressional investigators. Earlier today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before a Committee on Ways and Means hearing. The committee is investigating the IRS for targeting conservative groups for political purposes. Last week, the agency informed the committee it had lost e-mails requested through the investigation from former IRS official Lois Lerner and six other individuals.
“More than a year into the investigation of political targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, it is clear the agency needs to fully cooperate,” said Smith. “The Obama Administration also needs to appoint a special prosecutor in this case. Until then, the American people cannot have confidence the IRS is carrying out its responsibilities fairly and without political bias.”Read More
In recent weeks, an Al-Qaeda inspired group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has quickly seized control of several cities in Northern Iraq including military facilities, banks, and even a major oil refinery. America has invested a large amount of blood, time, and treasure to liberate and secure Iraq. To see our investments in Iraq at risk of being reversed so quickly by a relatively small group of militants is deeply troubling, and even sickening.
While the conflict between different ethnic and religious groups in Iraq traces back thousands of years, the early pullout of American forces has certainly played a role in establishing the conditions in which the current crisis has developed.
The Administration failed to negotiate a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government to keep a residual American force in the country after 2011. President Obama then ordered the complete withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, against the advice of commanders on the ground. Time has now shown the Iraqi government was not ready to stand on its own.
The eagerness by many to withdraw from Iraq was political, not tactical. In addition to walking away from the Iraqi government before it was ready to provide security for the Iraqi people, the Obama Administration chose to release thousands of prisoners in U.S. custody to expedite our retreat. One of the released prisoners was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who is now the leader of ISIS. This failure should be kept in mind as the Obama Administration contemplates and seeks to release other enemies of the United States, including detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
This crisis is unfortunate, but we now have an obligation to seek the best path forward. As ISIS fighters continue to advance, our first priority must be to protect American lives, including at our embassy in Baghdad. We cannot have a reoccurrence of what happened in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. I appreciate the President’s intentions to secure the embassy, to send 300 military advisors to consult the Iraqi military, to enhance our intelligence capabilities in the country, and to consider targeted military strikes against ISIS in consultation with Congress.
While I hope the use of ground forces can be avoided, I would have preferred the President not announce to the world, including our enemies, the limits of his engagement. I also hope our government is not coordinating with the government of Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism, for military assistance in Iraq. Our reluctance to act should not be an excuse to enhance Iran’s influence in Iraq or to allow ISIS to overrun the country. We must listen to our friends in Iraq and seriously consider their requests for assistance.
America is the greatest source of good in the history of mankind. However, political expediency has failed American interests and our allies before. As America steps back, ISIS, Iran, and Russia are filling the void. America must lead again to remain what President Reagan called, “the last best hope of man on Earth.”Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith’s (R-NE) legislation affecting the Northport Irrigation District was approved today by the Committee on Natural Resources. H.R. 4562, would provide repayment authority for members of the Northport Irrigation District under a dated Bureau of Reclamation contract. The bill will now be referred to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
“I appreciate the Natural Resources Committee passing this needed legislation, and I look forward to its consideration by the full House. Allowing producers within the irrigation district to pay off their portion of the Bureau of Reclamation contract would be a commonsense reform, and a win-win for landowners and the government.”Read More
2241 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Adrian Smith has earned praise for his leadership, hard work and dedication to Nebraska commonsense. Smith has tackled issues ranging from biofuels and other forms of domestic energy to transportation research and development to fashioning legislation promoting rural America.
Smith has consistently voted against tax increases, massive government bailouts, and was unwavering in his opposition of the misguided health care bill now creating massive uncertainty for our nation’s job creators.
Smith, a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment and a supporter of a Congressional earmark moratorium, has earned a reputation as a solid conservative through his votes to protect the rights of gun owners, efforts to limit the scope of government, and his strong pro-life voting record.
Smith, who serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means, actively promotes access for Nebraska agriculture products in Asia, South America, and throughout the world. Nebraska’s $4 billion in worldwide agricultural exports creates $6.7 billion in additional economic activity. Smith supports trade agreements which will continue to create new opportunities for our agriculture producers and their products to keep Nebraska’s economy strong.
Smith’s assignment on the Ways and Means Committee also puts the Nebraskan on the front lines in the debate on how to create jobs, promote economic growth, and directly impact tax policy – such as the Death Tax which threatens family farms and ranches.
Smith’s also has introduced the bipartisan Small-Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act which would help stimulate the economy of rural America, empower local irrigation districts to generate revenue, and decrease reliance on fossil fuels by encouraging the use of small-scale hydropower projects.
The Gering native, whose family has called Nebraska home for six generations, was first introduced to politics by his grandfather. Prior to his election to Congress, Smith served his hometown as a member of the City Council. He then represented District 48 for eight years in the Unicameral.
He continues to reside in Gering.
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