By Cong. Adrian Smith
The Homestead National Monument coin launched this week, marked by a celebration in Beatrice. With Chimney Rock proudly featured on our first state quarter, it is only fitting for this second quarter to celebrate the pioneers who settled the land.
As Nebraskans, we are thankful for the generations of homesteaders who built the foundation for our current way of life. My family was among the settlers who journeyed into the unknown to expand a nation based on freedom and opportunity.
While this quarter circulates from coast to coast, its depiction of the Homestead National Monument will serve as a reminder of how opportunity has grown America. One of my main goals is to preserve this legacy of opportunity for Nebraskans.
A strong economy which encourages innovation and entrepreneurship is the foundation of opportunity. Unfortunately, President Obama’s tax, spending and regulatory policies are stunting our country’s economic growth.
The budget recently proposed by the President for Fiscal Year 2016 is more of the same. It never balances but calls for $2.1 trillion in new taxes and $8.5 trillion in new debt. This comes from an administration which has already raised taxes on hardworking Americans by $1.7 trillion and increased the national debt by $7.5 trillion.
Raising taxes and expanding regulations undermines small businesses, and the impacts are felt by a majority of Nebraskans. Small businesses represent 96.6 percent of all Nebraska employers and provide jobs for half of the state’s private workforce. A mark of the homesteaders’ legacy, entrepreneurship remains a key driver of our rural economy today.
To support small businesses, the House of Representatives passed America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act on Friday. This legislation makes long-standing tax provisions permanent to give certainty to small business owners and allow them to plan for the future. In particular, the provision setting higher expensing levels under Section 179 of the tax code will provide small businesses the certainty they need to invest in equipment while knowing those expenses will not be taxed up front by the federal government. It is a small but important step toward simplifying our tax code and ensuring more economic opportunity for our job creators.
Congress also finished its work on the Keystone XL pipeline this week. The bill passed by both the House and Senate authorizes the pipeline’s construction, forcing President Obama to make a decision on this project after more than six years of stalling. Though he has promised to use his opportunity-killing veto pen, I hope the President will choose to change his course on Keystone and support this investment in American energy and infrastructure.
Nebraska’s pioneer history demonstrates what can happen when people are empowered by opportunity. Simplifying the tax code and pursuing domestic energy solutions are just two of many initiatives I am working on to encourage economic growth. The House of Representatives will continue pushing forward with legislation which ensures more opportunity for all hardworking Americans.