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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how record-high inflation is hurting small businesses in South Dakota. Thune noted that small businesses, including farms and ranches, are struggling with high energy costs, which affect everything from production to the transportation of finished products to the cost of keeping a storefront open.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, it’s National Small Business Week – a week set aside to honor the contributions small businesses make to this nation.
“Small businesses are an essential part of our economy.
“Ninety-nine percent – 99 percent – of South Dakota’s businesses are small businesses.
“And almost 60 percent of South Dakota employees work for small businesses.
“Nationally, small businesses make up most of the businesses in this country, and are responsible for 62 percent of net new job creation.
“And small businesses are not only an essential part of our economy, they’re also an essential part of our communities – doing everything from creating gathering spaces for community members to supporting local charities and sponsoring local sports teams.
“Mr. President, during National Small Business Week, I’d like to be able to report that small businesses around the country are thriving.
“But the truth is, while some are doing well, a lot of small businesses are having a difficult time right now – not because of COVID, as Democrats might like you to think, but because of inflation.
“Inflation, which has hit American families hard, is also creating major difficulties for small businesses.
“When I talk to small business owners in South Dakota, one of the first things they tell me is how inflation is affecting their businesses.
“In a recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Business, 62 percent of small businesses reported that inflation is having a substantial impact on their business, and 84 percent reported that they are experiencing lower business earnings due to inflation.
“And it’s no surprise.
“Inflation has driven up the final price of goods and services.
“It’s also driven up the cost of raw materials.
“The producer price index, which measures wholesale costs to sellers, hit 11.2 percent in March – its highest level ever recorded.
“And small businesses are struggling with high energy costs, which affect everything from production to the transportation of finished products to the cost of keeping a storefront open.
“Farms and ranches, which make up a substantial part of South Dakota small businesses, are seeing huge price increases in the cost of essential inputs like fertilizer, while the price of diesel – which powers farm equipment – reached an all-time high this week.
“Agriculture is already a challenging industry by its very nature – many farmers and ranchers in South Dakota, for example, are currently dealing with a severe drought – and inflation is making things a lot worse (especially right now in the midst of planting season).
“Mr. President, we all know how we got here.
“Democrats came into office last year mere weeks after Congress had passed a fifth bipartisan COVID relief bill, totaling more than $900 billion and meeting essentially all current pressing COVID needs.
“It was abundantly clear that we were not in immediate need of trillions more in government spending.
“But that didn’t matter to Democrats.
“Now that they were in charge, they were eager to take advantage of the COVID crisis to begin implementing their big-government vision.
“And so in the name of ‘COVID relief,’ they pushed through a massive, partisan, $1.9 trillion piece of legislation filled with unnecessary spending and handouts to Democrat interest groups.
“And the result was entirely predictable.
“The definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods and services.
“And that was exactly the situation that Democrats helped create.
“Democrats flooded the economy with unnecessary government money, and the economy overheated as a result.
“And there’s no clear end in sight.
“It’s small wonder that after months and months of high inflation and anti-growth policies from the Biden administration, our economy shrank in the first quarter of this year.
“Mr. President, unfortunately there is no easy solution to the inflation crisis Democrats helped create.
“One essential thing, of course, is to do no more harm.
“That means no more excessive government spending, and no bloated Build Back Better tax-and-spending spree – a spending spree that some Democrats are still advocating for.
“Another essential thing is to unleash American energy production.
“That includes conventional energy production.
“I am a strong supporter of clean energy.
“I come from a state that in 2020 derived 83 percent of its energy generation from renewables.
“But no matter how much Democrats and the president might wish it were otherwise, the fact of the matter is that our nation is nowhere close to being able to eliminate our reliance on traditional energy sources.
“Clean energy technology has simply not advanced to the point where we can replace all conventional energy production with renewables.
“And cutting off investment in clean, responsible oil and gas production will do nothing but drive up energy prices for American families, farms, and businesses.
“Unleashing American energy production, on the other hand, including production of oil and natural gas, could quickly result in relief for families and businesses and help ease our inflation crisis.
“Unfortunately, the president has made his hostility to conventional energy production very clear.
“He set the tone on day one of his administration when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, an environmentally responsible pipeline project that was already underway and that was to be paired with $1.7 billion in private investment in renewable energy to fully offset its operating emissions.
“He also almost immediately froze new oil and gas leases on federal lands.
“And while his administration is finally conducting sales for new onshore oil and gas leases after being ordered to do so by a federal judge, it has reduced the land available for such leases and substantially increased the royalty rate – sending a clear signal to American energy producers that the administration is reluctant to collaborate with them.
“Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed requiring publicly traded companies to comply with costly new climate-related disclosures that would likely discourage investment in conventional energy production.
“In short, the Biden administration is creating a recipe for sustained high energy costs – and a lot more pain for American businesses and families.
“But I – and my Republican colleagues – will continue to do everything we can to unleash conventional energy production here at home and drive down energy prices for Americans.
“Mr. President, I’m grateful for all that small businesses contribute to our economy.
“And during this National Small Business Week, and every week, I will continue to work to mitigate the harm of Democrats’ inflation crisis and advance policies that make it easier for our small-business men and women to continue to drive the American economy forward.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”