With its roots dating back to 1789, the Committee on Ways and Means is the oldest committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in fact, most of its jurisdiction is derived directly from our Constitution. It is an honor to have the opportunity to sit on a committee with such a rich history and great tradition. However, at the same time, it is humbling because this assignment enables me to serve Nebraskans on critical issues facing our families, farms, businesses, and ranches.
With its broad jurisdiction, the Ways and Means Committee impacts our pocketbooks, and in turn, nearly every aspect of our daily lives. The countries where Nebraskans can buy and sell goods, the taxes we pay, and the Social Security benefits some may receive are just a handful of the topics which fall under the committee's influence.
Since the 112th Congress convened, Ways and Means has actively gathered information about legislation and discussed ways to move it forward which would benefit Nebraska's families and small businesses. By participating in hearings about opening new export markets, rolling back the mandates of ObamaCare, and stressing the need for comprehensive tax reform, I have taken advantage of opportunities to question witnesses about the impact federal laws have on Nebraskans and cast votes which highlight the importance of a strong market-based economy. While the work of the Committee on Ways and Means is just beginning for this Congress, I wanted to update you on several significant developments.
In January, the Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing about the pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Columbia, South Korea, and Panama. Passing these long-stalled FTAs is absolutely necessary to create American jobs and boost economic growth by opening new markets for U.S. goods and services. Specifically, the ratification of these FTAs will increase exports of high-quality agriculture products, and in turn, directly benefit Nebraska's farmers and ranchers. President Obama has spoken repeatedly about the importance of FTAs in creating jobs, and I agree. Under the leadership of Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Ways and Means is leading the effort to pass all three FTAs within the first six months of 2011, an effort I hope the Administration will join.
Following the release of President Obama's budget, which included a proposed increase in the Death Tax, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner testified before the Committee on Ways and Means. When asked about the Death Tax, the Secretary did not dispute the fact this tax is a form of double taxation on Nebraska's farmers, ranchers and small business owners. Raising taxes, particularly the Death Tax, will not provide job creators with the certainty needed to encourage savings, add jobs, and make investments. The Death Tax should be permanently repealed, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to achieve this goal.
Recently, I voted in the Ways and Means Committee to advance the repeal of the misguided 1099 mandate included in ObamaCare to the full House of Representatives for passage. Of all the concerns with the health care reform law, nothing hits Nebraska's small businesses, family farms, and ranchers so immediately as the new paperwork burdens created by this provision. I am pleased we passed this repeal out of the Committee on Ways and Means. Now, Congress must continue moving forward to eliminate this mandate before it produces even more economic havoc, particularly for Nebraskans.
For more information about my assignment to the Committee on Ways and Means, the latest developments from Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at www.adriansmith.house.gov.