Inflation, workforce points of discussion as Hinson tours Dubuque businesses

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, on Monday in Dubuque called for extending tax deductions for small businesses and reducing federal government spending to boost economic recovery.

Hinson toured two Dubuque businesses, including Giese Manufacturing, and spoke with business officials about the challenges facing small businesses during a time of high inflation and low workforce availability.

“You look at these rampant cost swings that are happening across the country — not only just for us at the grocery store but for people trying to run a business and lock in prices,” Hinson said.

The prices of goods have increased dramatically over the past year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics most recently reported the consumer price index has risen 8.3% over the past 12 months, while specific items such as gasoline have increased about 43% over the past year.

Company President Charlie Giese said Giese Manufacturing faces a range of challenges.

“It’s all across the board,” Giese said. “Things are more expensive, and it’s not easy to find people that can work for us.”

Giese said he believes the federal government should focus on encouraging more young people to enter the workforce or attend a trade school instead of attending college. He pointed to several of his employees that are reaching retirement age and soon will need to be replaced.

“It’s not easy finding someone when everyone is going to college first,” Giese said. “I think more can be done to promote the trades and show people that there are good jobs out there.”

Hinson partially attributed the nationwide increase in prices to rising gas prices.

“The supply-chain cost is very, very reactive to fuel prices,” she said. “We need to be thinking about it from not only how can we fix the supply chain but also how we can fix energy independence.”

Hinson said she is calling for an increase in the use of biofuels in Iowa, along with stripping away regulations imposed by the Biden administration regarding the domestic drilling of oil. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February, for example, established new guidelines requiring any new oil pipeline construction to review its potential impact on climate change.

However, Hinson also voted against the recently proposed Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, which aimed to allow the government to restrict the “unconscionable pricing of consumer fuels during emergencies.”

Hinson said she believes the bill amounts to government price fixing and does not address the underlying issues leading to increases in gas prices.

The Iowa Democratic Party instead characterized Hinson’s vote as her choosing “to side with big oil companies.”

Earlier this month, Hinson was part of a bipartisan group of representatives — including Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. — who introduced the Strengthening the Agriculture and Food Supply Chain Act. The bill would “create a dedicated task force to shore up the American food supply chain to bring prices down and prevent future shortages of essential items,” a press release stated.

Hinson pointed to federal spending as a major reason for the current economic conditions.

“The inflation that we’re experiencing is a direct result of too much government spending,” she said.

However, Hinson has supported government spending to provide arms to Ukraine for use against the Russian invasion, including a recently passed $40 billion aid package for the country.

Hinson called the expenditure necessary in order to defend national security and promote the safety of democracies.