On April 19, I testified before the House Ways and Means Committee ostensibly to discuss the effects of the Biden energy agenda on rural America. Instead, I listened to Democrats read through some of my old tweets.
Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., convened a hearing to discuss the so-called “green” tax benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to determine the ultimate beneficiary: the American people or Wall Street and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The topic may not generate the headlines of Hunter Biden’s laptop or boycotts of Bud Light, but the issue, along with the $1.2 trillion in giveaways attached to it, is extremely urgent. Chairman Smith deserves great credit for bringing the issue to the forefront.
Silly me to think the opposition party would be willing to engage in a serious discussion.
I was not surprised by the theatrics. Every member of Congress is a campaigner, and as such, is a showman. Everyone needs a soundbite and clip. I was disappointed in the complete lack of seriousness, especially from the senior Democrat members. Hours wasted on scripted “gotcha” lines. Hours wasted talking past each other, not even remotely addressing the issue at hand, but using the allotted time to, quite frankly, prattle.
Dumbfounded, I listened to Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon brag about record-low increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and gas prices dropping more than 17.4 cents thanks to the Biden agenda. What planet does he live on? Here is a 74-year-old man who has been in Congress since 1997 thinking that if he chooses arbitrary dates he can create artificial data sets turning junk into treasure in a form of legislative alchemy. Gas prices are still more than $1.70 per gallon higher than when Biden took office. Sure, they have come down from last summer’s highs but anyone filling up regularly knows there is nothing to celebrate at the pump.
CPI was up 0.1 percent in March, and though that is a welcome relief, it is still up 5.6 percent over the year. Again, congressional wizardry aside, most Americans know eggs prices are up 70 percent and bread prices up 15 percent. Utility prices are so high that the largest number of Americans since 2009 are seeking government assistance to pay them.
But wait, why were we even talking about this? Why were we not discussing the green incentives in the IRA and whether they benefit Americans or the CCP? And that, in a nutshell, was the minority side of the entire hearing. Talk about something else.
Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell from New Jersey didn’t like one of my tweets where I likened the green agenda to communism. He sat there and pointed his finger at me screaming like I was a schoolchild. I asked the chairman for time to defend myself, and several members appreciated my comments. One even told me it was surprising as most witnesses just sit there and “take it” from the opposition.
My doubling down on the green movement as communist was viral for a hot minute, and yes, it felt good to defend myself, but the last two days something has really bothered me: Bill Pascrell, an 86-year-old man who has been in Congress almost as long as I have been alive, wasted taxpayer-funded time and resources by having his team dig through my Twitter feed.
In fact, except for Jimmy Panetta, the Democrat from California who offered substantive comments on permitting reform, the minority used their allotted five minutes to make a speech and praise the party agenda. When they did ask their one witness a question, he would flip through his massive binder with an answer prepared well in advance. It was all just bluster and show.
I shared a story about green policies closing a coal mine on the Navajo Reservation in northwest New Mexico. The elders told me the political move would plunge their community into poverty. Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., did not want to hear the sad story and kept interrupting me.
Democrats want to own the race card and this story was not useful. Chairman Smith reminded the congresswoman she was not recognized and allowed me to finish, and she yelled some unoriginal, trite comment about a lack of “democracy” in the hearing. When it was her turn, when she did have allotted time to discuss the issue, she did not. Like the others, Rep. Sanchez returned to her script with feigned indignation and fabricated facts.
Several times I raised a very simple energy question: World coal consumption continues to increase year after year, yet America’s share of that pie grows smaller as the Biden administration and green policies target coal mines. Why is it “fighting climate change” to have children mine coal in China but not union workers in West Virginia where they have union jobs, OSHA standards, EPA regulation, paid time off, diversity, and sexual harassment training? It is far too easy for our politicians to “transition” American coal jobs and all fossil fuel jobs to the other side of the world.
The jobs we need to transition are the bulk of the legislators.
I still marvel that the senior-most Democrat members of the esteemed Ways and Means Committee spent their preparation time combing through my Twitter feed. It clearly admits defeat. It admits they have no rebuttal to my testimony and no defense of their agenda. Ad hominem attacks are powerful, just ask Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but they are incredibly weak and cheap.
Sadly, that is the state of our Congress today. Weak and cheap. Members rush into a meeting, deliver words they had not even seen until they open the binder, then rush off to a fundraiser or to MSNBC’s cameras in the Cannon Rotunda. Meanwhile, we are $31 trillion in debt, a rising China is launching spy balloons over our nation, the petrodollar has fallen, and members with decades of legislative experience tell their staff to focus on my social media. Weak and cheap.
It’s no wonder that only one in five Americans approves of the job Congress is doing. It is a miracle that number isn’t even lower. The silver lining is members of the House must face voters every two years. The Founding Fathers, in all their wisdom, wanted to keep members of the lower chamber more accountable than their Senate counterparts. Even hyperpartisan gerrymandering cannot protect those representatives who flout their responsibilities.
Like President Reagan, I am an eternal optimist. Congress can — and should — return to its original intent and former glory. But only if we replace the rot with fresh blood. Remember that when it’s time to vote.