On August 23rd I was glad to join members of the Clinton County Farm Bureau for their annual dinner. Throughout the evening, I had the opportunity to hear from farmers about how policies coming out of Washington have affected their ability to remain profitable, so that they may pass down farm land to their children and grandchildren. Farming is a tradition in Ohio. Our agriculture community not only grows important crops such as corn and soy beans, but also provides jobs and capital that are essential to our economy. That is why I have cosponsored three key bills which will help grow farming jobs and aid the growth of the farming industry.
This year we saw the return of the estate tax, commonly referred to as the “death tax." This tax has been particularly burdensome for farmers and small businesses since most have the entire value of their businesses and farms in their estates. The death tax is assessed at the worst possible time; when families are grieving the loss of a loved one. As a result of the tax, many families are left few options other than to sell their businesses or farms. Hard-working families already pay their fair share of taxes to the federal government. It is simply wrong to tax them again when they pass away. The death tax took a long “holiday” in 2010 thanks to the tax relief Congress passed in 2001, calling for a gradual phase-out of the death tax and its elimination in 2010. The legislation contained a “sunset clause,” which meant that unless Congress acted, the death tax would return in 2011 to its previous level in 2002. Since the previous Congress failed to act, families will now be hit by a tax which should have been eliminated. As in the past I have cosponsored H.R. 177, the Death Tax Repeal Act, which would permanently repeal the federal estate tax.
One of the big news stories of the summer has been how a number of federal agencies have begun passing massive regulations, without the consent of Congress which have a huge impact on our economy. These additional legislative restrictions run counter to what our founders intended when they drafted the Constitution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in particular, has passed on an unprecedented number of regulations to our farming community. In response to this, I have cosponsored H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011. This legislation limits the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in respect to climate change. This also comes in response to the Clean Air Act, which includes planned restrictions on vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases, to be implemented in 2012 and 2017.
Regulations from the EPA don’t just affect the farm industry. That’s why I have cosponsored H.R. 1705, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011. This bill would require the EPA to consider the effect their proposed actions will have on agriculture, consumers, fuel prices, and jobs, among other categories. H.R. 1705 requires a cost-benefit analysis of ten specific EPA regulations which seek to regulate emissions. These include: heat-trapping gases, fine particulates, ozone, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. This study would reveal the effects of clean air rules on consumers, small businesses, state and local governments, labor markets and agriculture. This study would also estimate the impacts of current rules and actions on the global economic competitiveness of the U.S., electricity prices, fuel prices, employment, and the reliability and adequacy of bulk power supply in the U.S.
I have consistently supported legislative efforts to grow American jobs, to reduce the tax burden on families and small businesses, and help American workers keep a larger share of their hard-earned income. In addition, I believe that our government should be an economic enabler, not disabler. In a time when many are struggling to make ends meet, and unemployment remains high, the last thing farmers and small business owners need are additional regulations which make their lives more difficult. I look forward to meeting with more members of the agricultural community in the coming months, and appreciate their thoughts on how to grow jobs in this sector of our economy.