At a business owner roundtable today, participants expressed deep concern over the current state of the economy and the Biden Administration’s decisions like the new federal vaccine mandate.
The round table, hosted in Altoona, brought in business owners and leaders from all over the state to discuss how they’re trying to keep things moving despite unprecedented challenges from the administration and other issues like worker shortages, inflation, the supply chain crisis, and possible tax increases.
Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann facilitated the discussion at Brick and Ivy Rooftop restaurant, just outside the gates to Adventure Land. Kauffmann kicked off the conversation with a question about the new vaccine mandate rules announced Thursday.
-Christopher Whalen: Heart of America
-Peter Voorhees: Standard Golf
-Brandon Wagner: Brick & Ivy Rooftop
-Brian Lohse: Brick Street Market & Cafe
-Charles Sukup of Sukup Mfg pic.twitter.com/X1QYco9m2Q
— Iowa Field Report.com (@IAFieldReport) November 4, 2021
The attendees felt like they were being caught between a rock and a hard place on the details, expressing frustration that mandating vaccines could lead some employees to leave, which compounded by an already tight labor market would be damaging.
“We held an onsite clinic, we provided a modest incentive, sort of encouraged people, we didn’t lean on people, we didn’t say you were gonna kill your grandma, and we got about 90% participation, and that how you should handle vaccinations,” said Peter Voorhees of Standard Golf in Blackhawk County. He suggested that the Biden Administration provide incentives to get vaccinated rather than mandates.
Thursday’s vaccine mandate rule released by the Biden Administration was blasted Republicans across the county, Kaufmann released a statement to the media shortly after the news of the rules broke.
“The Biden Administration has absolutely overstepped their power and this move resembles something we’d see coming out of an authoritarian dictatorship, not the United States of America,” said Kaufmann. “The American people will not stand for this blatant attempt to strip them of their individual rights and freedoms. The Republican Party of Iowa wholeheartedly supports Governor Reynolds’ fight against these lawless mandates.”
Other participants expressed concern over supply chain delays; Charles Sukup explained they keep running out of steel and are forced to slow production because they can’t keep enough raw materials in stock. He lamented that these issues hurt farmers because they couldn’t get the products they needed, like grain bins.
Sukup also said they are seeing much higher costs for steel now too. “What really concerns us is that steel prices have gone up 3, 4 times what they were the year before,” said Sukup.
Brandon Wagoner echoed those comments, “When we started this, we were paying $120 for wings; we’re paying $160 now.” The additional cost is something that that his business will have to eat or pass along to the consumers.
It’s not just small business owners concerned about how things are going either. A recent survey, cited by CNBC, showed that 54% of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy.
In addition to rising prices of consumer goods, energy prices continue to climb as well. Wagoner mentioned that to run his restaurant, he pays $3200 each month for natural gas. Some news reports have speculated that natural gas prices could double today if the energy market remains on its current trajectory.
In addition to serving in the Iowa House, Brian Lohse also has two small businesses joined the round table. He suggested that if the Biden Administration wanted to turn things around, they should stop pursuing ways to tax and spend the Nation to prosperity but rather look at a state like Iowa. He boasted that low taxes and responsive spending here has resulted in a strong economy, low unemployment, and large state budget surplus make Iowa a poster child for how all states should be run.