Senator John Hoeven talks inflation, agriculture in northwest North Dakota

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 4:45 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - While the U.S. House voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven met with people in Williams County to hear about how inflation is affecting them.

Several topics were discussed at a roundtable hosted by the Williston Chamber of Commerce, including rising ag prices, supply chain issues, workforce, and energy costs. Hoeven warned that passage of the Inflation Reduction Act will not alleviate high prices.

“By increasing taxes on companies and businesses that produce the goods and services, as well as taxing things like methane, [Democrats] are increasing the cost of energy at a time we need to bring it down,” said Hoeven.

One part of the Inflation Reduction Act calls for the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents. Hoeven said that will negatively impact small business owners.

“You know they are going to go after our small businesses, and that is the absolute wrong thing to do. Our small businesses are the backbone of our commerce here in North Dakota and across the country,” said Hoeven.

Hoeven added that one of the best solutions is to improve domestic oil and gas production, which can be done in the Bakken.

All 50 republican senators voted against the Inflation Reduction Act Sunday. The bill passed after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tiebreaking vote. Democrats said the bill will lower inflation, while helping invest in green energy and lowering prescription drug prices.

Hoeven also visited Watford City to speak with the McKenzie County Grazers, discussing their concerns.

North Dakota’s senators voted against the bill, even though it could benefit some North Dakotans.

The Inflation Reduction Act is a big bill. It includes more than $400 billion in spending for a multitude of things, including policies that Democrats say will attempt to curb climate change, lower the deficit by around $300 billion, and lower the cost of prescription drugs. But North Dakota’s delegation has serious reservations.

If passed, the Inflation Reduction Act gives Medicare the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices, caps out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 for Medicare part D beneficiaries and holds pharmaceutical companies accountable if they increase their prices faster than the rate of inflation.

“All of those are provisions that we fought for and so we can’t overstate what a monumental improvement in prescription drug coverage this package will be for older Americans,” said Josh Askvig, director of the ND State Director.

So, why did North Dakota’s delegation vote against it? For starters, they say it won’t do what it claims.

“The bill is fiscally irresponsible, needlessly bureaucratic, and of course it damages every sector of the American economy, to energy to pharmaceuticals, to manufacturing,” said Senator Kevin Cramer.

Senator John Hoeven said he voted against the package because it attempts to lower drug prices in a way that shifts costs.

“Price controls and that kind of thing, I think, are just going to shift the cost from, for example, Medicare, to private pay. So, you’re still going to see the expense, it’s just going to shift it in terms of how it’s paid,” said Senator John Hoeven.

Still, proponents of the bill are happy the bill is on its way to being law.

“We’re going to continue to fight for relief, by the way, for those who aren’t on Medicare as well, but we’re excited right now about this step, moving things forward,” said Askvig.

The president is expected to sign the bill into law soon. If and when he does, lower prescription drug prices for people on Medicare part D will go into effect in 2025.

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