Republicans' problem with inflation

Exactly what have Republicans done to fight inflation? 

Published January 13, 2022 10:32AM (EST)

Mitch McConnell (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Mitch McConnell (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

 As the current debate rages over inflation in America, it's worth noting that much of this conversation is based on backward-looking data and that things are actually improving.  

While the news coming out today on inflation was stark, the good news is we should see a steady decline for the rest of the year. A report from Blue Chip Economic Indicators 2022 forecasts that the Consumer Price Index will fall to 3.0% by Q4 of 2022, and 2.4% by Q4 of 2023. Also another bit of good news from the report: wage growth outran inflation last month, at least on average. That means that real average hourly earnings for all employees actually increased from November to December.

All things considered, this is promising news, which one would think Republicans would welcome given how often they talk about the issue. But while they have relentlessly politicized this issue, Republicans have done nothing to fight it. If anything, they created this mess with their irresponsible COVID-19 inaction. If Republicans are serious about fighting inflation they would join Democrats in fighting the COVID-19 virus, ending the economic instability it causes. And if they really want to help Americans lower costs they would work with Democrats to pass the Build Back Better Act.

President Joe Biden has responded to the frustrations of the American people, vigorously fighting to bring down inflation. He released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and worked to fix delays at ports resulting in supply chain issues. Finally, he has taken steps to lower the cost of meat for consumers.  All this was coupled with the policies in the Build Back Better Act, once passed, will drive down costs for all Americans, once it is passed. 

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These strategic actions have already resulted in the prices of everything from gas and groceries to fall, a trend that is likely to continue this year.  As I have noted here in the past the economy is booming: in just 11 months President Biden has created nearly 6 million jobs, people are buying houses, wages are up, home values are up, personal debt is down, and perhaps most astonishingly, unemployment is back below pre-pandemic levels. Are things where we want them right now? No they are not, we must do more, but Republicans are not helping, if anything they are making things worse.

While Republicans love to talk about inflation they have done nothing to fight it. They also have no plan to fix this problem. Their economic policies have actively contributed to the pain of working-class Americans.  Their stubborn, misguided refusal in 2020 to follow basic COVID mitigation plans by health experts fueled the spread of this deadly virus. Their failure to fight Covid in 2020 created the inflation we are currently experiencing today. 

As Craig Kirsner, President of Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors recently told Forbes:  "...For the past year and a half due to Covid, hardly anyone was spending money. Now that the economy is back open, people are spending and traveling and, as such, there is a bottleneck with very high demand. Our system isn't set up for this high demand level, so that causes inflation in the short term."

To be clear here, inflation is occurring because our economy is growing at a historic rate, the American people have money because the Biden Administration has invested in them. Americans are spending money, buying goods, and driving demand way beyond supply. Are Republicans who complain about inflation arguing that we should be slowing the growth of our economy and that American consumers should stop buying things? How does that make any sense?

Republicans' abysmal failure to fight Covid brought us to this inflation challenge. It was Republicans who let the Coronavirus rage out of control and did not follow basic protocols to fight the virus with all the tools and their disposal.  

Our economy was shut down because Republicans did not take science seriously. Particularly outrageous, is the fact that they still do not take the virus seriously as they actively promote not wearing masks and not getting vaccinated. They are in part responsible for the pain and loss Americans continue to experience. Remarkably, Republicans are still not taking the virus seriously with Florida Senator Marco Rubio recently calling people's reaction to the surge in Omicron cases "irrational hysteria." Perhaps even more baffling Florida Governor Ron Desantis, amidst a testing shortage, actually let an entire warehouse full of Covid-19 tests expire.

Defeating COVID-19 is an economic imperative for all workers. Democrats have invested heavily in the American people, they have fought tirelessly to ensure the American worker was supported during the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic. 

Biden and Democrats are waging an all-out assault on the coronavirus, to save lives, jobs, homes and to ensure Americans were fed during this crisis. Democrats led efforts to get 200 million people vaccinated, got them back to work, opened up our economy, and continue to invest in the American people.  These proactive actions taken fortified our country against the effects of Covid and the inflation voters are currently experiencing. 

Sadly, Republicans do not care that when they actively stoke the fires of anti-vaccination and anti-mask wearing, they are hurting our economy and our people. Republicans still have an opportunity to help fight costs related to inflation: they must join Democrats and pass the Build Back Better Act.  Recently 15 Nobel Laureate Economists released an open letter saying: "Because this agenda (BBBA) invests in a long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer-term inflationary pressures." That's on top of a letter released last year from 56 economists urging Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act and lower everyday costs for working families. These economists noted that those investments, along with tax cuts for the middle class, will ease the burden of inflation on Americans and allow them to keep more money in their pockets. 

It is unconscionable that Republicans continue to play politics with inflation, peoples' livelihood, and their lives. Republicans have an opportunity to help relieve the economic pain of all Americans by passing the Build Back Better Act, and they are choosing not to. The next time you hear a Republican complain about inflation, take a moment and remember two things: The reason we are in this mess is because of their economic policies, and their failure to fight COVID created the inertia that led to higher prices for consumers. 

By Kristian Ramos

Kristian Ramos is a political strategist based in Washington, D.C.

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