This is the season of good news, and the economic potential we are currently seeing in our country is no exception.
The unemployment rate has fallen to a 17-year low, a signal of rising opportunity in America. The Trump administration’s commitment to rolling back much of the Obama administration’s red tape has loosened the regulatory stranglehold on the economy and set the stage for more extensive growth through tax reform.
As former Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp used to say, “The tax code is 10 times the size of the Bible with none of the good news.” After years of preparation, we are working hard to get tax reform across the finish line.
Revamping our broken, outdated tax code will help get the government off Americans’ backs and deliver relief for taxpayers of all income levels, while also giving businesses of all sizes the confidence they need to invest. For the many people who have been struggling to make ends meet or grow their businesses or find a job, tax reform is a long-awaited priority.
President Trump has referred to tax reform as “rocket fuel” for the economy, and the excitement is already taking hold. U.S. manufacturers’ economic optimism has reached the highest level in 20 years, according to a quarterly survey conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers. Of the hundreds of large and small manufacturers surveyed, 94.6 percent reported a positive economic outlook, 53.8 percent said they anticipate hiring more workers, and 48.8 percent said they plan to increase employee wages and benefits.
Manufacturers aren’t alone in their enthusiasm about our economy’s potential. U.S. small business confidence has also hit a nearly all-time high, coming in just under the highest reading which occurred in 1983 during the Reagan economy. The Index of Small Business Optimism, a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, has been conducted for 44 years. The percentage of small businesses planning to hire more workers increased by six points in the past month, while the percentage of owners who believe now is a good time to expand went up four points.
Both reports emphasized their respondents’ optimism depends on the passage of pro-growth tax reform. More than 100 economists sent an open letter to Congress at the end of November urging passage of tax reform for similar reasons. In their words, “Economic growth will accelerate if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passes, leading to more jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living for the American people.”
The Nebraska Farm Bureau has also stressed the importance of tax reform to the agriculture economy. Among many benefits, including full and immediate expensing, is a provision I fought hard for to allow producers to continue to deduct in full property tax on agricultural land. This primary input in the business of feeding the world should be treated as a business expense in the tax code.
Moving into the final stages of tax reform, we face a crucial moment for the future of our country. There are many reasons to be optimistic about what’s to come. Despite our challenges, America is the greatest country in the world with an unmatched legacy of opportunity. Let’s ensure this opportunity grows.Read More
Empowering people to achieve independence and productivity is our mission on the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, of which I serve as chairman. President Trump is urging Congress to focus on welfare reform after we finish our tax code overhaul, and I am eager to dive into this effort to help more Americans reach self-sufficiency.
In the fight against poverty, four main principles in House Republicans’ “A Better Way” plan serve as guideposts for the task ahead.
First, we must promote human dignity by expecting able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work in exchange for benefits. Too many programs are focused on meeting immediate needs without providing recipients with the tools they need to succeed in the workforce. States should also be held accountable for helping recipients find jobs and stay employed.
Our second principle is getting incentives right so everyone benefits when someone moves into the workforce permanently. Recipients are too often incentivized to stay on welfare long-term rather than being rewarded for finding stable employment, and some providers also benefit as the number of recipients on their rolls grows. We need to change these incentives to unite around the end goal of helping more people enter and stay in the workforce.
Third, we must focus on results. The common measurements of success for welfare programs are inputs, such as the number of people enrolled and the amount of money spent. These surface-level statistics do not tell us whether these programs are making a positive difference. To be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and ensure we help rather than hurt people’s economic potential, we need to thoroughly evaluate programs and tie funding directly to real results.
For example, we have been working for the past few months on reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, known as MIECHV. My bill to reauthorize MIECHV passed the House at the end of September. The voluntary program, which helps improve the lives of families in at-risk communities, works because its funding is contingent upon demonstrated evidence of effectiveness. This should be the standard rather than the exception.
Finally, we need to improve the integrity of our anti-poverty programs to make sure benefits are going to those who truly need them. Through advances in technology, we have innovative ways to protect against fraud and abuse. States and other providers should be encouraged to adopt these methods to more carefully track how benefits are distributed.
Our subcommittee has held multiple hearings this year on the challenges we face in helping people lift themselves out of poverty. The first hearing examined the geography of poverty, both urban and rural, and the importance of developing local solutions. Another hearing focused on the 5.5 million 16- to 24-year-olds in America who are not in school and are not working, and opportunities to break this cycle. Additionally, we delved into the decades-long decline of men participating in the labor force and how to help them once again experience the dignity of work.
These insights and principles will serve as the foundation for bringing hope and opportunity to those trying to better their lives. Meaningful reforms are needed to help more Americans achieve economic independence, and we are ready to move this important effort forward.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after voting in favor of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which passed the House this afternoon.
“Constitutional rights don’t stop at state lines, and today’s vote shows the House is committed to preserving Second Amendment protections for law-abiding citizens,” Smith said. “Americans who qualify for concealed carry in their home state should be able to carry in other states, and many states already practice reciprocity. This legislation makes concealed carry reciprocity the law of the land to eliminate confusion among law enforcement and gun owners over which states will recognize permits.
“As the number of Americans going through concealed carry training and permitting has increased, violent crime has decreased. In fact, 24 attorneys general, including Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, sent a letter to Congress last week encouraging passage of the bill and stating, ‘Concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding members of society ... strong evidence indicates that concealed-carry permit holders actually deter and reduce crime.’
“Those who follow the law should not have to worry whether their constitutional rights apply as they travel throughout our country, and I will continue to defend the Second Amendment on behalf of Nebraskans.”Read More
Tax reform is our main focus in Congress right now, and many beneficial provisions for the agriculture economy are advancing with this effort. We know farmers and ranchers are weathering uncertain times, and as we get closer to putting a tax reform bill on President Trump’s desk, we also need to get moving on the farm bill.
Over the past few months, I held farm bill listening sessions across the Third District. These open forums led to constructive discussions about what has and has not worked in the current farm bill. I have already shared the feedback with a number of my colleagues in Congress.
This week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway reached out for my input on the priorities we should focus on for the next farm bill. I highlighted four main themes from my ongoing discussions with Nebraska producers.
First, we must maintain an adequate safety net by keeping crop insurance programs available and affordable for producers. Many attendees of my farm bill listening sessions stressed the importance of this public-private partnership to their operations. The 2014 farm bill prioritized crop insurance, which requires buy-in from producers and greatly reduces the need for costly ad hoc disaster payments. Protecting both producers and taxpayers, crop insurance is a cornerstone of responsible agriculture policy.
Second, we need to ensure the Title I farm commodity provisions such as Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) remain available to producers during times of economic stress. With the lack of predictability in the agriculture economy, we must keep risk management tools in place.
Third, we should remember the needs of livestock producers in the development of the farm bill. They face unique challenges, some of which must be resolved outside the bill’s framework, such as expanding market access for their products through trade negotiations. On the Ways and Means Committee, I continue to work on strengthening and increasing trade opportunities for all producers. Through the farm bill, we can provide valuable tools like the Market Access Program for export assistance while also addressing issues such as disaster assistance and disease prevention.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, we need to complete the farm bill on time. There is already too much uncertainty for producers with low commodity prices and an uncertain trade environment. We should not leave them guessing about what the next farm bill will look like when we know they need the information to make decisions about their operations.
The Third District is the top-producing agriculture district in the country due to the hard work day after day, rain or shine, of the farmers and ranchers who put food on our tables and steward the land. Their industry has inherent risks, but they take those risks because they know how vital their work is to the health and well-being of people across the globe. Our focus must be on helping to relieve some of the burden of these risks through sound policies.
I look forward to more discussions with Chairman Conaway as we move the farm bill forward. As chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, I will be working closely with the Agriculture Committee on issues related to the farm bill, namely the nutrition title. We must look carefully at its effectiveness, ensuring it is focused on those in need while enabling producers to provide more Americans with nutritious food.
We depend on farmers and ranchers for food, feed, fuel, and fiber, and they are depending on us to get a farm bill to the President’s desk. Let’s give them the tools they need to continue to meet the wide-ranging demands of a growing world.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final 2018 renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“Today’s announcement is good news with room to grow,” Smith said. “The Trump administration kept its commitment on not reducing volumes, and the numbers announced today uphold congressional intent while providing needed certainty for ethanol producers. At the same time, while the levels for biodiesel are disappointing and do not capture the potential of the industry, I am optimistic the Trump administration will continue to advance biofuels and domestic energy production moving forward.”
Nebraska is second in the country for ethanol production, and Smith has long supported the development and increased availability of biofuels. In March, Smith reintroduced his bill to provide retailers the option of selling E15 year-round.Read More
The House passage of the tax reform bill is an important milestone, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The Senate is currently considering its version of the bill, and then the two chambers will come together and settle the differences through a conference committee.
Our goal is to reduce the tax burden for all Americans. For individuals and families, the House bill simplifies the rate structure, doubles the standard deduction, and allows nine out of 10 filers to submit their tax returns on a postcard. It also lowers rates on small businesses, including a nine percent rate for businesses earning less than $75,000. Considering more than 96 percent of Nebraska’s employers are small businesses, this provision can provide a strong boost to our state’s economy.
With so many meaningful reforms included in the House’s tax code overhaul, I am particularly pleased about the numerous victories for agriculture.
One of my top priorities as we drafted the bill in the Ways and Means Committee was ensuring producers could continue to deduct property taxes on agricultural land. I fought hard to keep this deduction intact, and I am happy to report it is included in the House bill.
Farmers and ranchers have made great strides in increasing production on a per-acre basis, but land remains a primary input as they work to feed the world. Allowing the property tax on land in production to be deducted as a business cost is vital to their continued success.
Repealing the death tax and keeping stepped-up basis in place are also wins for producers and small business owners in the House bill. While I would prefer to repeal the death tax right away, doubling the exemption until the tax is fully repealed in six years provides immediate relief. Producers should not have to spend their valuable time thinking about which hoops they will have to jump through to continue their operations in future generations.
The bill also raises the cap on Section 179 expensing to $5 million and allows for full and immediate expensing for five years to help producers make more upfront investments. While these provisions are temporary in the House version, I plan to work toward making them permanent.
The first draft of the bill would have applied self-employment taxes to rental income, including agricultural land. Rental income is rightfully considered passive income, and I was able to help get this provision removed from the final bill to avoid serious repercussions for producers.
I am also aware of concerns from co-ops about repealing the Section 199 deduction for agriculture, as the full provision is repealed in the House bill. Senator Pat Roberts has proposed an amendment to the Senate bill to address this issue by applying a new small business deduction to co-ops, and I look forward to the two chambers working together to address this issue.
U.S. producers are the most efficient in the world, and they need a tax code which works for them, not against them. The House bill contains many pro-agriculture provisions, and as tax reform moves forward, I will continue working toward even greater certainty for farmers and ranchers.Read More
Over these past few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I have been working day after day on tax reform. The House’s historic vote on November 16 to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a crucial step closer to a simpler, fairer tax code.
I am thankful we were able to come together and pass this important pro-growth legislation for the good of our country. Middle-income folks have been squeezed for far too long by an outdated, overly complex tax system, and this overhaul will help Americans keep more of their own money. There is more work to do, but we are on the right track to get a bill on President Trump’s desk by the end of this year.
As grateful as I am to see tax reform moving forward, there are many other reasons to be thankful this season!
First and foremost, I am thankful for my wife, Andrea, and our newborn son, Ezekiel. Parenthood has been an experience unlike any other, and no matter what happens on a given day in Congress, I always look most forward to the time I get to spend holding my son.
Living in the greatest country in the world is a privilege we should be thankful for every day. Despite the vitriol which unfortunately has become all too common in politics, we still witnessed a peaceful transition of power from one political party to another after last year’s presidential election. This is such a rare occurrence throughout the world. The freedoms we enjoy in this country are second to none, and I am proud and grateful to be an American.
I am grateful for the men and women of our military who are spending their holiday season defending our freedoms. We owe all who have served a debt we cannot repay, but we should take every opportunity to show them our appreciation.
I am grateful to the farmers and ranchers who work tirelessly each day to put high-quality food on our tables and feed the world. When we share our Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, we have many producers to thank for making it possible.
I am grateful to be a sixth-generation Nebraskan and for the privilege of representing the Third District in the U.S. House. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me to be your voice in Congress. I will continue to be an advocate for smaller government, strengthening rural America, and focusing on real solutions.
On the subject of thankfulness, I would appreciate the opportunity to hear from you. Our country faces many challenges, but there is also much to celebrate – and I would like to share a Thankful Third District roundup on my website and in my e-newsletter. Please send me a note at AdrianSmith.house.gov/TellAdrian to tell me what you are giving thanks for this year.
Also, if you have not yet subscribed to my weekly e-newsletter, you can do so on my website at AdrianSmith.house.gov/Newsletter.
To all Nebraskans, our family wishes you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.Read More
Smith spoke on the House floor to highlight the benefits of tax reform and urge passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which the House passed today to overhaul America’s tax code for the first time in 31 years.
“Today we took a historic vote to establish a simpler, fairer tax code for all Americans,” Smith said. “We have had more than 40 hearings and spent nearly seven years getting this right. This isn’t the final step, but it is a huge milestone – and a victory for so many Americans who have been struggling to make ends meet or grow their businesses or find a job.
“These comprehensive reforms will enable nine out of 10 taxpayers to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard and level the playing field for U.S. businesses to compete in the global economy, which means more jobs and higher wages. Individuals and families will be able to keep more of their own money with across-the-board cuts and simplified compliance.
“I have said Congress does not look to the future often enough, but today’s vote defies this trend and will lead to greater opportunity for generations to come. With President Trump’s strong support, I’m glad we were able to come together and get this done for the good of our country.”
Click here for Smith’s November 9 column on tax reform.Click here for Smith’s statement when the bill passed the Ways and Means Committee. Click here for Smith’s statement when the bill was introduced.
Smith is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) spoke on the House floor today to highlight the benefits of tax reform and urge passage of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A vote by the full House is expected tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker, Chairman Brady, thank you for the time and for your leadership as we continue our efforts to pass this historic legislation.
Mr. Speaker, after nearly seven years of work in the Ways and Means Committee – and more than 31 years since our last true tax reform, many hearings along the way – it is time to pass historic, comprehensive tax reform.
Our current tax code is antiquated, complex, and ignores many of the improvements in competitiveness which have been adopted by every other major economy worldwide.
The time for tax reform is now.
Others have already outlined many of the highlights of this bill, but I think they warrant mentioning again.
Simplified compliance and rates for individuals and families means more than 95 percent of Americans will be able to file their returns on a postcard.
Lower rates for small businesses recognize the important role they play as job creators in our economy.
A 20 percent top corporate tax rate and transitioning to a territorial system will ensure our businesses remain competitive with the rest of the world.
In addition to lower rates, expanded expensing will further encourage entrepreneurs to invest in capital to grow their businesses.
And full repeal of the death tax, including the continuation of stepped-up basis, will ensure our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and small manufacturers can continue creating opportunity for generations to come without the threat of double taxation.
Our tax code shouldn’t reward businesses and investors because they hired accountants and lawyers to help them avoid taxes, and the estate tax does exactly that right now.
I think it is equally important to praise what the bill leaves alone in the tax code.
With our impending entitlement crisis, we want Americans to save everything they can for retirement. This bill leaves those incentives intact.
It also excludes a proposal, which had initially been included in the bill, to apply self-employment taxes to rental income. This could have had serious repercussions for ag land rental and I am glad it was dropped.
And I particularly appreciate how this bill continues the deductibility of state and local taxes for businesses, including farmers and ranchers. U.S. producers have made great strides in increasing production on a per-acre basis, but land remains a primary input as they work to feed the world. Ensuring the property tax on land in production remains deductible as a business cost is vital to their continued success.
This is the moment to finally provide the tax relief Americans have been asking for – and to make our country competitive again. I urge the passage of this pro-growth bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.Read More
Simplifying our broken tax system is no easy task, but we know Americans need relief.
This is why we introduced a bill at the start of November to streamline the tax code and help people keep more of what they earn. We then spent the week of November 6 debating the details in a Ways and Means Committee markup, where the bill is prepared for a vote by the full House. The legislation passed out of Committee with my support, and we anticipate a House vote to quickly follow.
Americans at all income levels will see tax cuts under this bill, which the head of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation confirmed on the first day of our markup. Many provisions are designed to help working families, namely the doubling of the standard deduction, increasing the child tax credit, and lowering tax rates across the board.
Doubling the standard deduction will significantly increase the zero-tax bracket. Under our bill, a couple’s first $24,000 of income is tax-free, compared to $12,000 today. Filers can also keep the money they would normally spend on tax experts or software, as nine out of 10 Americans will be able to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard. With this financial boost, families can meet more household needs while saving for the future.
In addition to helping Americans keep more of their money, this bill also sets the stage for Americans to earn more money. By cutting the tax rate on small businesses to a historic low and reducing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent to allow American companies to compete in the global economy, job creators will be able to add more positions, raise wages, and invest here at home.
Our bill also firmly rejects the idea of death being a taxable event. The death tax runs counter to the American dream, so it is not surprising an April 2017 NPR report found a majority of Americans support repealing it permanently. Our bill phases out the death tax over six years and, in the meantime, doubles the exclusion amount to provide immediate relief.
Eliminating the death tax will have a positive ripple effect throughout the economy. Right now, the death tax only represents one half of one percent of all federal revenue. However, the flow of these dollars to the Internal Revenue Service has been a significant drain on economic growth. Our economy has lost out on more than $1.1 trillion in capital since the introduction of the death tax, according to the Joint Economic Committee.
Another study by the Tax Foundation found normal taxation on the amount of capital infused back into the economy by repealing the death tax would more than pay for itself, actually yielding an additional $8 billion in revenue than we have seen with the death tax in place. As Americans for Tax Reform said in response, “You heard that right – we’d actually collect more tax revenue if we stopped collecting the death tax.”
We cannot let this opportunity to boldly reform the tax code pass us by, and people across the country agree. In fact, more than 40 conservative and tax policy organizations signed onto a letter on November 9 declaring the bill “a victory for the middle class.”
There is more work to do, but we are moving in the right direction. It’s time for real relief.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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