May 4, 2022
Republican Senators Hold Press Conference on Economy 5/04/22 Transcript
Republican Senators Hold Press Conference on Economy 5/04/22. Read the transcript here.
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Pat Toomey: (00:00)
… that we see as a result. Now we have Democrat colleagues suggesting that in the face of a shrinking economy, we ought to have a huge tax increase. Well, that would further reduce the supply side of the economy. It’s a remarkably terrible idea. Here’s what should happen. The president really needs to stop catering to the radical left wing of his party as he’s been doing since he became president. He should end the war on us energy, restart the Keystone Pipeline, expedite natural gas and oil pipelines, so that we can deliver this tremendous resource we have to people all over the world. They should just totally drop the reckless tax and spending spree that they’re still threatening, even now. And certainly abandon these plans to just turn student loans into grants, which will further exacerbate inflation.
Pat Toomey: (00:56)
We could, in Congress, focus on a few areas where we could make real progress. First of all, embrace the goal of restoring America’s energy independence, cut through the jungle of red tape that slows down the production throughout the supply side of our economy, eliminate government-created barriers to Americans working and saving and increase opportunities to expand trade and have the lower costs that benefit from that. With that, I’m going to turn the podium over to Mr. Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy: (01:29)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The American economy is the most complex, most sophisticated and the greatest in all of human history. It is influenced by many factors, but there are three in particular that I think most fair-minded people could agree on. Number one, interest rates. Number two, consumer confidence. And number three, the expectations of the businesswomen and businessmen in America who create the jobs.
Senator Kennedy: (02:23)
Now, here is what they see. I think after 14 months, we understand what the Biden administration believes in. The Biden administration believes in bigger government, higher taxes, more spending, more debt, higher energy costs. And I say that, because I believe there are many members of the Biden administration who quietly are very content with the high energy costs. I think they see, they believe that high energy costs sells a lot of electric vehicles and that this is a good experience for the American people to have to take the pain of higher energy costs. Maybe that will quicken the death of fossil fuels. And I think the Biden administration, if you look at its proposed budget, believes in a weaker military.
Senator Kennedy: (03:35)
In the 14 months that I have watched the Biden administration, I have watched the Biden administration do the following. It has mismanaged Congress. It has mismanaged COVID. It has mismanaged the border. It has mismanaged crime. It has mismanaged inflation. It has mismanaged Afghanistan. And I pray to God that it doesn’t mismanage Ukraine. All of these things, unless you were in the quad playing Frisbee during econ 101, influenced the economy. Interest rates certainly influenced the economy. We’re having to raise interest rates because of Bidenomics. Consumer expectations and confidence are low as a result of what I just talked about. And I think if you talk to the average American businesswoman and businessman, they’re very discouraged. No wonder GDP is falling.
Pat Toomey: (04:58)
Dan Sullivan: (05:01)
Thank you, Pat. Thanks for doing this. Very important issues that we’re focusing on here. I want to follow on with what Senator Kennedy focused on, because the biggest drag on the US economy right now involves the rising energy costs that working families across our country are having to deal with. And this is purely a self-inflicted wound by the Biden administration and our working families are having to pay for it. Again, it bears repeating, day one, this administration focused on shutting down the production of American energy, stopping and slow-rolling American energy infrastructure, strong-arming financial institutions not to invest in American energy, particularly in my state, the great state of Alaska, nominating federal officials in positions across the government who have hostility to producing more American energy, openly hostile, and begging dictators to fill in the gap and produce energy for us.
Dan Sullivan: (06:11)
Now, the president keeps saying he’s doing everything he can to address this energy problem. You’ve seen prices go, from the beginning of the Biden administration, first day in office, $2.38 at the pump. Right now, it’s $4.23 cents average. Two bucks a gallon. Crushing American families. So, the president’s saying, “I’m doing all I can.” That’s fundamentally not true. Just in the past 10 days, past 10 days, the president issued a new NEPA regulation that was clearly intended to slow-roll American energy infrastructure. I’m going to be introducing, with several of my colleagues, a Congressional Review Act to reverse that. I think you’re going to see a lot of our fellow Democrats probably join us. I know that the Building Trades of America, the men and women who build stuff are very interested in joining us.
Dan Sullivan: (07:15)
Then, just last week, the president took half of the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska, NPRA as we call it back home, off the table for development, this is an area that’s not controversial, set aside decades ago by Congress for oil and gas development, probably the most prolific oil producing region of any place in the world. The president took it off the table last week, half of it. I’ll tell you who’s smiling, Vladimir Putin and the radical enviros. None of this makes sense. None of it makes sense. The results are completely predictable, higher energy prices on the backs of working families, pink slips for American energy workers, empowering adversaries. And the American people want to produce more energy.
Dan Sullivan: (08:07)
A recent poll had over 60% of Americans saying, “We need to produce more American energy.” So, why are they doing this? Why the hostility? I think Senator Kennedy said it right, this is purposeful. This is purposeful. Go to the White House, ask them, “Aren’t you purposely driving up energy prices?” These policies are, and I think like so much else with the Biden administration, it is the same old, tired story. The president’s policies are driven by the far left of the Democratic party. That’s what’s happening. Right now, you have Ukrainian grandmothers standing up to Russian tanks and Joe Biden can’t stand up to the far woke left of his own party. And the American people are suffering very much because of it.
Todd Young: (09:03)
Well, yesterday, back home, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers registered their votes on primary election day. Now the issues Hoosiers consider when they go to the polls, of course, vary. They’re all over the board. But one thing is on every Hoosier’s mind, it’s the state of our economy. It’s what people increasingly are calling the Biden economy back home. One national poll indicated where things are headed. It indicated that 94% of Americans say they are upset or concerned about inflation. 94%. We remain, in so many respects, a divided nation. And when the president of the United States stood on the steps of the United States Capitol and said he wanted to unite America. I didn’t believe he was going to unite America around the notion that we are on the wrong economic track.
Todd Young: (10:03)
… that we are on the wrong economic track, that spending one and a half, $2 trillion in the midst of a growing economy will drive up prices, starving our country of the hydrocarbon resources required to put affordable gasoline in your tank.
Todd Young: (10:22)
We’re all united around how bizarre this policy agenda is. Inflation’s costing Americans an average of $327 per month. Now, I don’t know how much $327 is to Joe Biden, but for the average Hoosier family, it’s a lot. It’s a whole lot. They’re being hit by rising energy, grocery bills, rent prices. It’s out of control. And it’s people of modest means who are being hit the hardest. It’s senior citizens on fixed incomes. It’s the working families that Joe Biden spent decades addressing from the floor of the United States Senate. He was the working man president. That’s what he aspired to be. I think that’s what he was elected to be.
Todd Young: (11:16)
But his agenda has fallen well short of even his supporter’s expectations. 94%, Mr. President, are upset or concerned about inflation. And yet, the Green New Deal’s not off the table. They’re still talking about spending a Build Back Better Bill that would throw more money into our economy, chasing the same number of goods and services. If he needs a briefing on economics 101, I remain available. This is out of control.
Todd Young: (11:57)
These rising prices we know are a direct result of policy choices made by the president of the United States, by Chuck Schumer, by leaders of the Democratic party. I sat in the Oval Office in the earliest days of this administration. And I warned the president of the United States and his economic advisor, Brian Deese, that this would lead to inflation. They not only ignored me. They said I was wrong. Mr. President, I was right. 94% of America are right to be concerned. And you’re right to be concerned about the November elections.
Todd Young: (12:39)
In Terre Haute, Indiana, we saw a local food bank recently had a 40% increase in visitors during the month of April. I don’t know what the Democratic party stands for anymore, but the Republican party stands for those Hoosiers. The Republican party has better answers for those Hoosiers. The Republican party understands that if we don’t get inflation under control, things are only going to get worse for Hoosier families.
Pat Toomey: (13:15)
So I think we all know the numbers. Inflation’s at 8.5%. It’s gone up every month Joe Biden has been in office. The Producer Price Index is more than that. We’ve seen interest rates going up. We saw a reduction in the GDP, which shocked everybody down 1.4%. And we see the Biden administration basically does nothing. Secretary Armando from commerce testified last week. And I asked her what she was doing on inflation. She said, “Oh, that’s the Federal Reserve’s problem.” I asked Pete Buttigieg what he was doing, didn’t have an answer. You listen to the Biden administration, they have no plan. They have no plan to deal with inflation. Now, if you wanted to fix inflation, here’s the things you would do. Number one, you’d become energy independent. It’s one of the biggest costs we have not just for consumers, but for businesses all across the country.
Pat Toomey: (14:04)
You’ve got to do that. You’ve got to fix the supply chain. You’ve got to make it easier for businesses to get started. You can’t be constantly making it more difficult to get a permit, constantly more difficult to be in business, constantly cause the cost of business to go up every day and think that prices are going to come down. They’re just not.
Pat Toomey: (14:21)
So I watched my mom struggle. I grew up in a poor family. She struggled to put food on the table with five kids. Now, here’s the stories you’re getting out of Florida. We have way more people going to food banks that had never been to a food bank before because the food costs have just skyrocketed. We have small businesses that can’t get their products now. And so, they’re having to shut their doors. We have restaurants that have seen their cost structure go up so much. We have as a result of federal policies that have given people incentive not to work, we have many businesses that can’t hire enough people to make a profit.
Pat Toomey: (14:58)
So this is all under Joe Biden. This all happened in the last year and a half. He could fix it, but he has no interest in fixing it. And as far as I can tell, whether it’s secretary pf commerce not doing anything, secretary of transportation not doing anything. And we’ve got Myorca speaking this afternoon about the border. That’s not getting fixed. So we have a crisis and we have got to fix this because, as my colleague said, it’s the poorest families. It’s people on fixed income. They get hurt the most. If you’re wealthy, your assets go up in value. That doesn’t hurt you. But if you’re trying to make ends meet and you see your costs go up eight and half, 10% and your wages not going up that fast, which they’re not in this country, it’s really had an impact, not just on the poor, but also those that are not seeing their income go up at all because they’re on fixed income.
Speaker 1: (15:48)
Biden-nomics are the single biggest threat to pursuit of the American Dream by middle and lower income families in America today. We actually know what works when it comes to economics because we’ve had this experiment, this laboratory of democracy known as the states.
Speaker 1: (16:08)
In Texas from 2010 to 2020, we saw 4 million people added to our population. I think people from New York moved to Florida. People from out west in California moved to Texas, but people actually can vote with their feet when the economies of their states and the policies of their states strangle their aspirations and opportunities to pursue their dreams. And what’s so important about that is that when your policies welcome job creators, people who will actually create then an opportunity for workers to earn a livelihood and put food on their table, those are essential elements of the American Dream. But unfortunately, Americans can’t flee national or federal economic policies under Joe Biden.
Speaker 1: (17:05)
I think most people thought of the 2020 election, they were going to get the real Joe Biden and maybe Joe Biden middle of the road economic policies. But what they got were Bernie Sanders and AOCs and the squads economic policies. Oh, by the way, they call themselves democratic socialists, which is actually an oxymoron. Their policies are not democratic. They are socialists. Redistribution of wealth, high regulation, bigger government, and a worse standard of living for the American people.
Ted Cruz: (17:48)
Joe Biden came into office with an economy that was strong and in the process of roaring back after the pandemic. One after the other, he implemented policies that were nothing short of disastrous. Joe Biden has been very, very good for billionaires. He’s been very, very good for the elites in Manhattan and San Francisco. But if you’re a young person, Joe Biden has been a disaster for you. If you are Hispanic, Joe Biden has been a disaster. If you’re African American, Joe Biden has been a disaster. If you’re a blue collar union member, Joe Biden has been a disaster. If you’re a suburban mom, Joe Biden has been a disaster. And it’s not a coincidence that every group I just listed is moving Republican sharply. Young people, Hispanics, African Americans, blue collar union members, suburban moms, all of them are moving Republican. It’s why in November, we’re going to see South Texas turn red.
Ted Cruz: (18:57)
It’s been a Democratic stronghold for over 100 years, but the people of south Texas are getting killed by Biden-nomics. What is Joe Biden’s economic plan? Well, it turns out putting socialists in charge of the economy is really bad for the economy. And it’s really bad for working men and women. It means galloping inflation. The cost of everything goes up. Cost of electricity, the cost of lumber, the cost of rent, the cost of buying your home, the cost of buying a car. And as we all know, the cost of gasoline. Every one of them has gone up and up and up and up. And what does Joe Biden do? Well, at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, he just laughs away wearing his tuxedo because you know what? Biden doesn’t pay for the fuel on Air Force One. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t pay for the fuel on the private jet that takes her back and forth to San Francisco. John Carey doesn’t pay for the fuel on his private jet as he travels the world, lecturing everyone-
Ted Cruz: (20:02)
… that as he travels the world lecturing everyone that they need to consume less.
Ted Cruz: (20:09)
If you’re a senior citizen right now, and you’re on a fixed income, every single bill you face has gone up. If you’re a single mom with three or four kids working a couple of jobs, all of your costs have gone up. If you’re a dad trying to think about, “All right, how do we afford braces for our 14 year old?” All of those prices have gone up. And there is a cause and effect. When you spend trillions of dollars, when you borrow trillions of dollars, when you print money like it’s going out of style. And when you combine that with an assault from regulators shutting down businesses, ordering shutdowns, assaulting energy production, oil and gas production in the United States, which drives the cost of energy up for everyone, which drives the cost of everything else up for everyone. And then when you put in place a cabinet that is AWOL. The Secretary of Transportation in the middle of the greatest supply chain crisis of our lives went on paternity leave and was nowhere to be found.
Ted Cruz: (21:18)
Two years ago, most people didn’t know much about our supply chain, didn’t ever really focus on the fact that we had a supply chain until Biden and the socialists came in and screwed it up. And the people who are hurting is working men and women. We know we can do better. Under President Trump, we cut taxes, we cut regulations and we saw the lowest unemployment in 50 years. We saw the lowest African American unemployment ever recorded. We saw the lowest Hispanic unemployment ever recorded. We saw the lowest unemployment for young people in 70 years. We saw the lowest unemployment for women in 70 years. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the socialists in the Democratic party took all of that and screwed it up. And the working men and women of America are paying the price.
Pat Toomey: (22:09)
Okay. We’ve got time for a couple of quick questions. Yeah.
Speaker 2: (22:11)
You laid out all the ways you blame Democrats and President Biden for driving inflation up, but Congress gives the Federal reserve the mandate to stabilize prices. What, if any, blame you put on the Fed for not acting sooner?
Pat Toomey: (22:23)
Well, I’ll speak for myself. I have been a persistent critic of the Fed. I think they took way too long to acknowledge the problem with inflation to change course. But as Randy Quarles, a former Fed governor, recently pointed out, President Biden contributed to this problem also. He delayed the decision as to who would be the next chairman way past any previous president making this decision in terms of the governor’s cycle and kind of had the effect of probably freezing the Fed board to some degree. That was completely unnecessary. But by far the biggest factor is just the massive overspending. I don’t know of a case where a government can engage in the kind of wild, excessive, unnecessary spending and not have inflation emerge as a problem.
Senator Kennedy: (23:15)
Can I say something to that?
Dan Sullivan: (23:15)
I’m going to jump in on this too. I’m sorry. Just the Fed dual mandate, as you know from Congress, is price stability and the unemployment rate, that’s their mandate. It’s one of the most powerful institutions in the whole world. That’s their mandate. That’s their job. One of the other elements that the Federal Reserve has now been taking up as a mandate is climate change. And in my view, it’s a backdoor way to choke off capital to the energy sector.
Dan Sullivan: (23:48)
So the Fed, by taking this on, you saw one of these nominees from the president who seems like her primary focus was going to be on choking off capital to the energy sector, not price stability or unemployment. She, fortunately in my view, was not confirmed by the US Senate, but when the Fed, and its Republican and Democrat nominees, are now taking on this broader mandate, A, it’s not their statutory mandate, but B, it goes to this energy issue that we’re all talking about. It goes to the same problem. Other agencies who don’t have a mandate, comptroller of the currency is another example, who all of a sudden think their mandate is to choke off capital to the American energy sector. It’s not their mandate. And the Federal Reserve, that’s part of their problem. And I think it’s also contributing to inflation as it relates to energy prices.
Senator Kennedy: (24:44)
Yes, the Federal Reserve waited too late. But we’re not going to get control of eight and a half percent in rising inflation without making changes both to monetary policy and fiscal policy. I think the Federal Reserve now understands the mistake it made. It’s scaling back quantitative easing and clearly they’re raising interest rates. But you know what? The executive branch and the United States Congress need to do their part too. We have a budget. We need to freeze it. We’ve got a budget, I’m not talking about shutting down government. We’ve got a budget. We need to freeze all new spending except for defense. And if you poll the members of the United States Congress, they’ll say, “Ah, that’s a great idea. Great idea.”
Senator Kennedy: (25:39)
But then if you said, “But you understand that means you can’t spend outside of your budget?” I’ll give you an example. Do we need more money for COVID? The experts in the Biden administration say we do. But when you ask them, “Well, why don’t you just repurpose some of the COVID money that we haven’t spent?” They say, “No, no, no, no, no. We need new money.” That adds to inflation. We have a crisis at the border. It’s going to get worse, folks. You watch. Within the next two months about administration is going to say, “We need new spending for border of security.” And the cherry on the banana split is the big tech giveaway bill, the so-called China competitive bill that we’re going to be asked to vote on that’s that’s 250 to $400 billion.
Senator Kennedy: (26:41)
And it’s a giveaway to big tech. Okay. If you believe in fiscal responsibility and restraint, you can’t vote for that bill. Final point I’ll make is, look, let me give you an example of the shortcomings and the reason I don’t think this administration is taking all this seriously. Nobody in their right minds, if you’re trying to get control of inflation and beat back stagflation and keep from having another GDP drop would try to promulgate new NEPA rules unless you’ve parachuted in from another planet. We worked hard in the infrastructure bill. I didn’t vote for it because the infrastructure bill because it wasn’t infrastructure. And I’m not going to buy a car to get the cup holders. But one of the good provisions in that bill was to reform NEPA. Now the Biden administration is turning that totally upside down. That’s going to add extraordinary costs and burdens to businesswomen and businessmen across America. I spoke too long. I’m sorry. I’m done.
Pat Toomey: (27:45)
That’s all right.
Senator Kennedy: (27:46)
That’s all I have to say.
Speaker 3: (27:47)
Yeah, so Joe Manchin agrees with you guys on a lot of these things. He’s put together a bipartisan group to try to do something to both increase domestic fossil fuel production, as well as do something on the climate. Is there a chance for Congress to use that to legislate something that would actually have a real impact here this year or you guys just more focused on, you got to change the Congress to do anything real?
Pat Toomey: (28:17)
As for myself, I’m deeply skeptical that we’re going to get to something that would make sense that I could support. I don’t know if you wanted to say something.
Dan Sullivan: (28:24)
Well, we’ve talked about it, but I was in the meeting Monday and it’s a good faith effort to try to get to some kind of compromise. To me, the most constructive element of that discussion, which I think has some potential, is this issue of NEPA reform. In addition to what was done as Senator Kennedy mentioned in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats, you go ask a mayor or a governor, it doesn’t matter what party they’re in, they know that what’s really holding us back, whether you want solar, wind, oil, gas, mining, roads, bridges is a broken permitting system. It’s killing us.
Dan Sullivan: (29:12)
And it takes on average five, six, seven, eight years to permit a bridge in America. Other industrialized democracies, Germans, Japanese, EU, Canada, no one has that problem the way we do. I think there is a very, not a very, but there’s a good opportunity here, because whatever you want to get done in this country, whether it’s more renewables, more natural gas, more oil, more roads, more bridges, more ports, if you don’t reform the broken NEPA system, you’re not going to get anywhere. In the meeting on Monday, I don’t want to speak for other senators, but a vast majority of the time was spent on this topic and I think there’s possible room as a core compromise area getting on NEPA, which is killing our.
Dan Sullivan: (30:03)
… area, getting on [NIPO 00:30:02], which is killing our ability to build stuff in America.
Speaker 4: (30:08)
Thank you, Senator. I just wanted to ask how do you all plan to keep voters engaged on inflation, headed into the midterms, especially as Democrats pivot away towards things now, like abortion rights?
Pat Toomey: (30:20)
Well, again, I’ll speak for myself. It’s not a matter of keeping voters engaged. I don’t have any constituents who are not concerned about inflation. And from the minute you get in your car and begin on your way to work, or school or wherever you’re going, you are reminded continuously with gas prices. And everything you do manifests the huge problem with inflation. So, that’s not a political challenge for us. That’s something we’re going to be hearing from our constituents. Last question.
Speaker 5: (30:55)
About that, last week, House and Senate Democratic leaders unveiled their plans they say would lower fuel costs by holding big accountable for what their say is market manipulation and profiteering during inflation. Wanted to see if you have any response to this? They also accuse Republicans of being in the pocket of big oil.
Pat Toomey: (31:14)
I’m going to defer to my colleague from Texas, but this goes back to the completely laughable idea that all of a sudden, corporate America became greedy. Must have been very, very generous before Biden’s inflation broke out. And I guess they expect that corporate America will become generous again. But in the meantime, it’s corporate greed that’s driving inflation. It’s one of the most ridiculous ideas they’ve come up with.
Ted Cruz: (31:37)
Democrats think the American people are stupid. Joe Biden campaigned, promising to shut down oil and gas drilling on federal lands. He stood there on the campaign trail and promised to do that. His first day at office, he canceled the Keystone pipeline, destroyed 11,000 jobs, 8,000 of them union jobs, with a stroke of a pen. That would’ve been bringing about 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil from our friend and neighbor, Canada, to the United States, which would’ve made a real difference right now. Also, in the opening days at his administration, he halted all new federal leases on federal lands, both onshore and offshore. Together, federal lands comprised 25% of us oil and gas production. Biden shut down new leases. On top of that, he halted development in ANWR, the incredibly petroleum-rich, very small region of Alaska that could be providing for our needs. He halted it all together.
Ted Cruz: (32:32)
On top of that, the Biden SEC is actively leaning in to cut off equity capital for oil and gas exploration for American energy. On top of that, virtually every banking regulator Biden has put forward has pledged to wage a war on energy and to cut off debt financing for oil and gas production. Biden and the Democrats told you they were going to destroy American energy production, and they’ve implemented dozens of policies directly to do that. And it has produced that effect. In 2019, the US oil production was roughly 13 million barrels a day. It dropped to 11.5 now.
Ted Cruz: (33:20)
That’s why prices are high. And so, Democrats, faced with a choice of do they reverse their policies and actually allow American producers to produce or do they try to demagogue and lie? They’re looking for a bad guy. They think the American people are dumb. So, they say, “Well, the bad guy are these oil companies.” You know what? The oil companies were greedy two years ago. The oil companies were greedy when gas was $2 a gallon. Everybody in business is greedy. Free enterprise counts on that to drive the prices down. The people telling you this are socialists, and they believe the voters are stupid.
Ted Cruz: (34:05)
The voters aren’t stupid. Do you know, the single most powerful, organic political manifestation we’ve seen the past year are these little bitty stickers that show up on gas pumps all over the country with a picture of Joe Biden, pointing to the price saying, “I did that.” The American people get it. And the Democrats, it’s a clown show. The Democrats want you to believe these big oil companies have all of this oil they can drill for and make money, but they don’t want to right now. They’re just saying, “Nope, nevermind.” I’ll tell you. I was out in Midland a couple of weeks ago, the Permian Basin, incredibly rich basin with oil and gas. You know what the guys there told me? They said, “Look, we’re trying to drill as much as we can, but we can’t get a permit to put the pipeline in. And we can’t get funding because they’ve cut off debt funding and equity funding.” And when you go to a bank, Wall Street’s cut them off because the Biden administration is pressing Wall Street to say, “Don’t fund any exploration.” And then Jen Psaki stands at the podium and says, “Well, gosh, they’re just refusing to drill.” This is their intended consequence. It’s what Biden wants. It’s what Schumer wants. It’s what Pelosi wants. It’s certainly what Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren and AOC want. And the people getting screwed are the single mom driving to work each day and spending $100 to fill up her minivan, are the Hispanic oil field worker in south Texas, driving his truck to get filled up, and paying $150 to fill up his truck. That’s who’s paying the price. And that’s why November, it’s not just going to be a wave. It is going to be a tsunami.
Speaker 6: (35:56)
Speaker 7: (36:02)
[inaudible 00:36:02]. (Silence).