Congressman Rudy Yakym attended the Downtown Merchants meeting Tuesday morning at the Marshall County Museum.  He told those gathered he’s a fourth-generation Hoosier.  His great-grandfather came over from eastern Europe to escape the Russian army that was building bases in his town getting ready for WWI.  He ended up in South Bend in the 1920s and got a job at Studebaker building cars.   Rudy has been married for 17 years to the love of his life Sally Ann and they have 3 children ages 13, 12, and 7. His background is in business.

Congressman Yakym said he is a big fan of downtown revitalization.  He said, “It causes people who grow up here to want to stay here.”  Rudy said it also helps bring visitors to the community who may eventually move in.

The congressman answered questions from the merchants.  One asked if there are dollars for Mainstreet USA Communities to tap into to help with downtown buildings that are inhabitable.  They commented that they tend to draw unwanted attention from shoppers and visitors. 

Congressman Yakym suggested and the Federal Historic Tax Credit program that might be helpful.  He also suggested READI Grant round II and said he would be willing to offer a letter of support for the grant application. 

One issue he has been tracking federally is inflation and the overall cost of things going up.  Merchants said there are supply issues, but shipping issues are also increasing.  An example was shipping had been about 10% of an order and now it’s increased to 15% to 25% so they must pass that cost on to their customers.    

Congressman Yakym said he serves on the House Budget Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  He said they have talked about supply chain constraints and challenges along with freight increase and what the government can do to unleash the supply of freight and encourage more truckers to come into the industry.  He said the labor rates in trucking have gone through the roof as have energy costs.

Speaking on inflation Rudy said, “If look at what’s caused it.  It’s not caused by anybody in this room.  Inflation is simply caused because we, the United States Government, who’s made a decision over the last 4 years or so to spend one and a half to two trillion dollars a year more than we are taking in.”   He said the unbalanced federal budget has racked up over $31 trillion dollars in national debt on a $22 trillion dollar economy. He does not want to continue to drive federal spending higher and thus cause inflation that hurts and pinches all of us.

The Congressman said they passed a law in the house that said if the President releases oil out of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve the oil can not be sold to China.  He said the President touts that fuel prices have come down off the peak but that’s because he has released about half of the reserve in the past two years.  That’s driven down oil prices but what happens down the road when we’ve depleted the oil reserve, is prices will go back up that’s why domestic energy production is so important.

Rudy also discussed the labor force participation rate that has not come back to pre-pandemic levels.  There are fewer people working today than at the start of the pandemic. This has created a labor shortage and that contributes to inflation.  In the House, they have discussed work requirements for some of the assistance programs.  The congressman said, “The unemployment rate is low and that’s great.  It means everyone who wants a job has a job.  The problem is not enough people want jobs because of the participation rate.  The percentage of people that are able to participate in the labor force that actually do still lower than pre-pandemic, about 64% and that’s a real problem.”  He believes if you are an able-bodied adult, able to go get a job and you are collecting from the Federal Assistance Programs other than Social Security you should be required to look for work and provide proof that you are working at getting a job.

Congressman Yakym said, “People think that it is the government that takes care of me.  It’s really not.  This is a misnomer.  It’s not the government that takes care of you, it’s actually your neighbor.  It’s your neighbor that goes to work and pays the taxes so you can stay home.  This is the reality of how it actually works.” 

Congressman Yakym spent about 20 minutes on Tuesday’s “What’s Your Opinion Show” on WTCA. You can hear the podcast of the show at