Blaine’s Bulletin: 2023 Economic Outlook
The 118th Congress is now fully underway, and the change of control of the House of Representatives is on full display. As I discussed in last week’s bulletin, the first bill the House passed was the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which prevents the 87,000 person increase in IRS agents. That was followed quickly by the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act that protects infants who survive abortions; the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act that prohibits the sale of our national energy reserves to Chinese-controlled entities, which the Biden Administration did in April of 2022; and a bill that establishes a Select Committee on China to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable – to name a few. We’re making good on many of the promises made over the last year and our momentum continues to build.
This week was a district work period. The biggest concern I’ve heard from people is, not surprisingly, the economy. So, it seems appropriate to share my thoughts on the state of our economy and where we go from here. This Congressional term, I will continue serving on the House Financial Services Committee as well as the House Small Business Committee, so a lot of my time will be spent on improving the economic policies that affect American families, businesses large and small, and America’s financial services industry as a whole. That admittedly is no small task after the financial instability we’ve experienced in the last two years, and the direction in which so many people believe our economy is going.
A January survey by Vanguard – one of the nation’s largest investment advisors – found that an alarming amount of Americans are dipping into their retirement savings early to offset the effects of inflation. The study found "[i]nvestors are feeling more pessimistic about the short-term outlook for financial markets and more of them are having to tap their retirement savings for cash." Another survey from Bankrate found that 46% – almost half of our population – of American credit cardholders have been carrying a month to month debt over the last year. Families should not be forced to spend their hard-earned retirement prematurely or rely so heavily on credit cards just to get by. Life in this country has become unaffordable for the vast majority of our citizens, and everyday Americans are risking their financial health and savings. That’s not acceptable, and my colleagues and I are ready to do everything in our power to get our economy back on track.
Our plan is very straightforward. First and foremost, we need to stop spending money we don’t have. That is money management 101. While the extraordinary circumstances created by Covid called for extraordinary measures, the government continued (and still continues) to spend trillions of dollars after the pandemic ended. That money was in no way necessary and led to the inflation we’re living with today. While Republicans only control the House and have to deal with the Democrat-led Senate and the Biden White House in budget negotiations, the days of trillions of taxpayer dollars going out the door with no resistance or questions asked are over.
As I’ve said many times before, we also need to focus on producing in America the goods we depend on to survive. The most obvious example is energy. The best and simplest way to reduce costs and create jobs is through American energy production. When the cost of transporting a product goes up, the sale price of that product has to go up. The same goes for the cost of keeping the lights on at a store or a warehouse. The only way to cover the cost of high energy prices is to increase sales prices. Increasing energy production here will lower the costs and support American jobs. It is the epitome of a win-win. Unfortunately, the administration has the authority to approve and deny permitting, but we will use every opportunity and pressure point we have to increase production and refining capacity in the U.S.
Gas prices have gone down a bit in recent months which has been a welcome change. However, one important factor that I fear the administration is not considering regarding oil prices is the reopening of factories in China. Due to China’s disastrous and inhumane zero-Covid policy, much of its manufacturing and other industrial activities, which are extremely energy intensive, have been shuttered. It’s hard to believe that even with the world’s largest energy consumer sitting idle for the last two years, energy prices remained historically high. But we all felt it every time we filled up. Now that Chinese leaders are publicly stating they’ll be abandoning the zero-Covid policy and starting to manufacture again, the massive demand for energy could drive up international energy prices very quickly. That is the last thing we need, and another reason we have to commit to American energy production.
Again, energy is just an example of the many things we can and should produce in America. We need a regulatory and tax environment that allows entrepreneurs to grow in this country. From medical supplies to microchips, we have the ability to produce anything in this country, but too often government regulations make it impossible. Getting government out of the way and out of our daily lives has always been a top priority of mine, and will continue guide my decision making in Congress. It will be an uphill battle given the current makeup of Congress and this administration, but that is what you’ve sent me to Washington to do. And I intend to honor that mandate.