YUKON, Okla. (OBV) – Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means continued their “State of the American Economy” tour this week. After kicking off things in West Virginia on Tuesday, both Republicans and Democrats gathered at Express Ranch in Yukon to hear from small business owners.
“We’ve got about 25 members of the Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful committee in Congress, about seeing how the tax policy is working out, seeing how health care policy and trade policies are working. I think the American people want to know what’s going on inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C. I know firsthand that the American people, not Washington, knows what’s best for all of us,” said Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Oklahoma District 1.
“The future of agriculture, energy, manufacturing in Oklahoma and across the country is dependent on tax and trade policies that work for these industries. It’s a critically important thing. Ways and Means is tax policy, and there are a variety of things under their control that affect industry,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma District 3.
Oklahoma leaders in ranching, farming, food processing, energy and manufacturing were all on hand. Business men and women expressed concerns over federal tax policies, environmental regulations, supply chain interruptions and inflation.
“I was asked to talk about agriculture and what some of the concerns are that we’re facing here in Oklahoma with the drought. Markets are great as far as the cattle market goes, but if you don’t have anything to sell, that doesn’t really do much for you,” said Kelli Payne, farmer and rancher from Sayre. “So, this is an incredible chance to tell Oklahoma’s story to a very powerful committee in Washington.”
Workforce topics – specifically labor shortages, skilled labor scarcity, childcare roadblocks and federal actions some say are hurting their business – were the primary points of interest among the U.S. representatives and Oklahomans in attendance.
“The lack of workforce, in my opinion, is the root cause of all of our problems today. I saw this train wreck coming a long time ago, and unfortunately, the train wreck continues and we just keep getting run over by it,” said Chuck Mills, president and owner of Mills Machine Co. in Shawnee. ”You know, reduce the incentive for people to stay home, let’s get people back into the workforce. Workforce training and education is important, imperative.”
“So, I think that using our tax code to incentivize apprenticeship programs, workforce development programs are really important. And I think both Republicans and Democrats both agree that incentivizing work is important,” said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “I hope it’s an opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats to put aside the red and the blue and just think about us being Americans and what’s in the best interest of the American economy.”