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Rep. Kevin Brady: 'Build Back Better can actually drive not just inflation but the labor shortage even worse'

Texas Congressman Kevin Brady joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss Biden's economic agenda, Build Back Better and much more.

Video Transcript

EMILY MCCORMICK: Adam, let's turn now to Washington DC. President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan appears to be on pause for now and inflation remains top of mind as core personal consumption expenditures soared at the fastest rate since the early 1980s in November. To discuss all of this and more, we're welcoming in Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and today the ranking member. Congressman, it's great having you back on. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon.

KEVIN BRADY: Good to see you, Emily. I'm afraid though, after that segment about holiday spirits, this will be a bit of a buzzkill. So I'm a little worried about this segment.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Well, Congressman, to kick off this segment I did want to first get your take on the latest inflation print that we got out this morning because it was another hot report. As I mentioned, we saw core PCE up by the most since 1983 at a 4.7% year-on-year increase. What do you think needs to be done to rein in these price increases? Or does anything need to be done, because many economists are looking for a moderating rate of price increases heading into next year?

KEVIN BRADY: Yeah. So I think-- so I think this has become the number one concern of consumers and working families. It is certainly a political drag on this president I think in a significant way. And I think new report that shows the average family, average worker spent about $3,500 more last year to buy exactly the same goods from the year before. So this is a big issue. So I think the answer has to be stop making it worse. I am worried that in this Build Back Better scheme, what's left of it at least, they still have several provisions that will drive workers to exit the workforce, which will drive prices up as it gets tougher to move through the supply chain issue.

The other is the way they designed their help with childcare, they double, through mandates and dictated wages, they double the price of childcare but subsidize only some Americans. So an average family with two kids could see an extra $27,000 a year in child care. That too will be a barrier to getting people back in the workforce. So I think Build Back Better can actually not drive just inflation but could drive the labor shortage even worse.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Representative Brady, it's Adam. It's good to see you and since I won't get to say it later--

KEVIN BRADY: Good to see you.

ADAM SHAPIRO: --have a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.

KEVIN BRADY: Thank you.

ADAM SHAPIRO: The study that you cited is a University of Chicago economics professor, he's also a PhD, Casey Mulligan. He was an advisor to the Economic Council in the past administration. He pointed out that what you talked about, raising-- if we do Build Back better as it's proposed right now, that some of the requirements that boost the salaries for the lower-paid daycare folk, wind up costing the average family who we're trying to help about 27 grand. Is there a way though to help those lower-income folk with daycare that could be salvaged?

KEVIN BRADY: Yes. Great question. The answer is yes. In fact, I think Congress has done that, allocated almost $50 billion if I recall, to do exactly that, sent down to the states to help alleviate the childcare crunch and to provide help to those lower and moderate-income workers. You know, most of those dollars haven't even been allocated yet. So we don't even know that solution could work but they're moving ahead with a design that really-- so a family making in most states, $65,000 together, that's two teachers perhaps, would be triggered into those significantly higher child care costs. I can't believe that's what the White House wants to do but under the Build Back Better bill it does that in what some have called the toddler tax, it's real. And I think it hurts the economy. I think some parents will decide not to reenter or perhaps to leave.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Representative Brady, you'll be retiring next year. And I'm wondering, as you come up against that, what are some of your main priorities right now when you think about the legislation that you want to get done and your wish list for the next 12 months?

KEVIN BRADY: Yeah, Emily, thank you. And thanks for not rushing me out the door. I've still got a year here that I'm excited about serving up there. So obviously, my top goal is to defeat the tax increases and the spending provisions in Build Back Better because the tax hikes themselves, which don't get much attention are $1.2 trillion, they're are almost the size of the tax cuts but hikes focused on and landing on job creators and investors in the US and in a way that makes America, much less competitive globally. I worry about that, that's my top priority. Retirement security chairman Richie Neal, the chairman of the Ways and Means, and I, our committee together, have put together SECURE 2.0, another significant reform to retire retirement savings, very bipartisan. I hope we can do that.

Trade is an area, Emily and Adam, I think we ought to be working closer on. A lot of momentum on Capitol Hill from the New US-Mexico-Canada agreement that had historic bipartisan support, we ought to be making use of it. Right now, the White House does not have a trade agenda and in fact, sort of has a de facto moratorium on new trade agreements while the rest of the world, China, Europe, Japan, and others, are out there divvying up customers for their farmers and their companies. So I'm hopeful at some point the White House-- they have a fantastic trade ambassador in Katherine Tai, I want the president to put her to work opening up new markets for our businesses.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Not rushing you out the door because I'm hoping you're going to join us over that final year in Congress. I just want to shift very quickly to politics. I know that you know, helping working men and women is what you're about through tax policy. But what advice would you have to members of the Republican caucus who are being invited, not subpoenaed but invited, to testify-- not testify but to share information with the January 6th committee, what advice would you have for them? What kind of precedents are they setting if they say not going to do it?

KEVIN BRADY: So if this were a legitimate truly bipartisan, serious investigation, I would encourage a lot of people to cooperate there. But going-- one, this is not fair, it is highly partisan, politically motivated. And I think it's important not to legitimize that. Also, this is a committee that-- and frankly, these new steps on subpoenaing other members of Congress, I will tell you, Democrats in the House this year have crossed so many lines and opened up so many avenues that I think will come back to bite them in the minority. I wish they would think longer term, whether it is pursuing a person's tax returns to make them public for purely political reasons or elements like this, removing people from committees, changing the rules in the House that have really been a balance for both parties. I really would caution them because I think they've opened some very dangerous doors that shouldn't be opened.

ADAM SHAPIRO: What would you say to representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger though, they're Republicans, are you saying they're illegitimate, as a part of this committee?

KEVIN BRADY: Of course not. Of course not. I respect them both and respect their views but there's no question this is not a fair or balanced committee. The Speaker did not accept the nominees from leader McCarthy, that could have made a significant difference. Nor was she willing to consider sort of the fair rules of the committee that would create I think credibility and legitimacy, she rejected that as well. And so my view is the Speaker decided this would be a political motivated and biased investigation. We certainly didn't.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Representative, I do want to get your perspective, earlier this week-- going back to Build Back Better, President Joe Biden said that he and Senator Joe Manchin are going to get something done on the almost $2 trillion economic package for Build Back Better. What is your expectation about how the Republican Party is going to have to address this given Joe Biden's ambitions on getting something done potentially here in the new year in 2022?

KEVIN BRADY: Yeah. Great question. So we're going to keep pulling back the curtain on this bill and all the provisions in it because they are so damaging but there's so many of them. It's hard for the public to actually sort of understand all of them. So we're going to keep hammering on the spending provisions and the tax provisions that will drive this economy down, control so much of people's lives. And I think have some pretty bad consequences both for inflation and for the labor shortage.

EMILY MCCORMICK: All right, we will leave it there for now. Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Thank you so much for your time this afternoon and have a happy, healthy holiday.