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Smith updates group on national issues
January 23, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Congressman Adrian Smith

Nebraska Third District U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith was in Scottsbluff Monday to discuss issues or concern with members of the Scottsbluff-Gering United Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee.

“One of the best things we can do for the budget and the economy and individual opportunity is tax reform,” Smith told the group. “Our current 10,000 page tax code is so complex it costs our economy $160 billion just to comply with all the regulations. That’s before anyone writes a check for what they owe.”

He said there isn’t support in Congress for a flat tax, but there could be enough votes to make the tax flatter than it is now.

Relating to taxing and spending, Congress is expected to debate whether to raise the debt ceiling again sometime this spring. “I don’t like the idea of default on our debts,” Smith told the group. When other options can be pursued, bankruptcy isn’t an option we should pursue. It’s not fun to announce spending cuts, but a $17 trillion debt cannot continue. Both political parties are responsible for that.”

Smith also discussed the nation’s trade issues, which can have a huge impact on the export of Nebraska agricultural products. He said that while some of those policies have helped the economy, some have put the nation at a competitive disadvantage.

“On average, American goods are subjected to an average 67 percent tariff around the world,” he said. “Everyone else’s imports on average receive a 12 percent tariff. That’s pretty uneven. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers reside outside our borders.”

Smith also said he’s seeing increased support from both parties for major changes to the Affordable Health Care Act. More than 60 Democrats voted along with Republicans calling for increased security for data entered into the government’s health care signup website.

“I have to be honest,” Smith said. “These are issues that Sen. Reid will choose not to take up. That’s frustrating because there are good faith efforts to fix some of the problems that get nowhere in the Senate.”

He said he’s also concerned to see the administration independently make changes to the Affordable Health Care Act without going through Congress. “I think the separation of powers is violated when that happens. And we’re seeing it more and more frequently. I don’t want to sound so negative, but there are some major problems with the whole bill.”
He added the reach of the health care bill is so huge; we’ve only begun to see the impact it will have on the nation.

“It’s important for me to get back to my district and talk with the folks on the front line of the economy,” Smith said after the meeting. “Many of these local officials have to deal with federal mandates from agencies that continue to grow. It’s something we have to address in Washington.”
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