West Virginians testified to the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday about the economic hardships they have endured under the Biden administration.
The committee held its first hearing of the 118th Congress at Allegheny Wood Products in West Virginia on the state of the American economy. Witnesses testified at the field hearing about the challenges they face due to inflation, supply chain issues, high gas prices, higher interest rates, labor shortages and overregulation.
“For many Americans, it feels like Washington has forgotten about them…In West Virginia, the cost of living has increased 15.1 percent since President Biden took the oath of office, costing families a total of $7,000 and counting.” pic.twitter.com/2x3ul10Ygb
— Rep. Jason Smith (@RepJasonSmith) February 6, 2023
Tom Plaugher, vice president of operations at Allegheny Wood Products, described how his business has been squeezed by supply chain issues and worker shortages. (RELATED: Gas Prices Jump For Fifth Straight Week With No End In Sight)
“The supply chain crisis hit us hard from two directions. It became difficult to obtain the parts and equipment that we needed to run. Lead times went from a few days to several weeks or even months,” Plaugher said. “AWP and our entire industry attempted to ramp up production, but most companies were unable to do so due to a lack of labor. Some of our contractors closed their doors or dramatically scaled back their business as they were unable to find employees to fill the available jobs.”
Ashley Bachman, owner of Cheetah B’s Restaurant in Petersburg, West Virginia, talked about how inflation has hurt her business because of increased costs.
“Unfortunately, after COVID we have been hit with another crisis. The crisis of rising costs of everything. This has proven to be a much tougher task than what we dealt with during the COVID regulations,” Bachman said. “Our little restaurant has been bleeding money due to all the increased costs, and I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to continue with the prices the way they are.”
Another small business owner, Wiley McDade, had similar difficulties running his business. McDade, a Navy veteran, opened Devil’s Due Distillery in Kearneysville in 2021.
“Much has changed in the past two years. Fuel prices and their fluctuations have made planning difficult especially on already small margins. Due to factory closures, glass shortages have been and continue to be a scourge on the industry. Input costs on grains have risen sharply,” McDade said. “We need lower and more consistent fuel prices to allow for planning on thin margins. We need choice in energy to achieve efficiencies in our industry. We need to strengthen national manufacturing and refill our national commercial warehouses. We need to pull back from intensive interest rate hikes and stabilize housing affordability.”
Jamie Ward, a 30-year coal worker and manager of Itmann Preparation Plant, testified about the decline of her industry due to Washington’s policies. “I watched the small towns of my home state fall on incredibly hard times all because of anti-coal policies that were being pushed in Washington, D.C., by people who had never even been to the place where I grew up,” Ward said.
The hearing was led by Republican Missouri Rep. Jason Smith, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and appeared to serve as a “pre-buttal” of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, which is scheduled for Tuesday night.