U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins said the majority of Louisiana workers and businessmen and women are pledging patience during the trade wars because they believe President Donald Trump and America will ultimately prevail.
The Republican congressman also said the state’s oil and gas industry’s comeback has lagged behind other sectors here because of federal and state impediments.
Higgins, R-Port Barre, a staunch Trump supporter, toured Quality Machine Works Tuesday in Youngsville. The company is a manufacturer focused on producing oilfield completion components.
“By and large, those I’ve talked to who the tariffs are directly impacting, from the board room to those wearing steel-toed boots, have faith that President Trump’s negotiations will end in victory for America, though they want it to end soon,” he said.
Using Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas data, Bloomberg recently reported a trade war would slow Louisiana’s total economic output by a minimum of 7 percent over five years, the most of any state.
“There has been some pain in America and certainly in South Louisiana, but I’ve spoken to hundreds of workers and business owners and the common thread is they say they’ve managed it so far and they support the president,” Higgins said.
Higgins said the American economy overall is booming, crediting last year’s tax cuts and ongoing regulatory reductions.
“We’ve done everything in our power on the federal level to restore a positive business climate and encourage investment,” he said. “The tax reform is one of the cornerstone accomplishments of this Congress and this president and its impact is resonating across industry.”
He described previous administrations as “regulatory assassins” and said Trump’s administration is eliminating 22 regulations for every new one created.
“President Obama weaponized regulations because he was anti-fossil fuels,” Higgins said. “We’ve flipped that.”
But Higgins conceded the oil and gas industry here remains depressed.
“Right here in Acadiana we still have 10,000 workers still unemployed in the oil and gas industry,” he said. “Those jobs have not returned.”
Higgins said he has lobbied Trump to lower the federal taxes for offshore drilling.
“That’s the final thing we can do on the federal level and it hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “Right now the (taxes) are 18.75 percent for deepwater drilling while the rate was 12.5 percent in 2006. Companies are moving their rigs.
“We’re going to continue to push for that royalty relief on a federal level.”
But Higgins said state lawmakers need to make adjustments at home to boost the oil and gas industry.
“Oil and gas has recovered quickly in neighboring states; Texas is booming,” he said. “Louisiana isn’t helping itself.”
Higgins said Louisiana’s severance tax is nearly triple that of Texas’ and that Louisiana’s litigious environment is poisonous for the oil and gas industry.
“Baton Rouge could fix that tomorrow,” he said.
Higgins also criticized those he described as the “liberal left” as inciting a venomous tone in politics “because of their hatred for Trump.”
“They hate president Trump more than they love America,” he said. “but the Trump agenda is bringing big wins for America with more on the way.”