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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how record-high inflation is hurting working families in South Dakota, and he noted that Democrats’ big-spending, big-government agenda is costing American households, on average, an additional $460 per month.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the latest inflation numbers came out on Friday, and – as has become par for the course in the Biden economy – they weren’t pretty.
“Inflation hit 8.6 percent in May – the worst inflation since December 1981.
“Grocery prices increased nearly 12 percent on average.
“Eggs were up 32 percent.
“Chicken was up 17 percent.
“Milk was up 15 percent.
“And the list goes on. And on.
“Gas prices were up 48 percent.
“Since President Biden took office, the price of gas has more than doubled.
“Gas has hit $5.00 a gallon, and the price of diesel – so essential to our nation’s farmers and ranchers – is even worse.
“And there’s no end in sight.
“J.P. Morgan estimates that gas prices could exceed $6 a gallon by August.
“Other energy costs have also increased, with electricity up 12 percent and utility gas service up 30 percent.
“By one estimate, inflation is costing American households $460 per month.
“It’s no surprise that in a recent poll, 83 percent of respondents – 83 percent – described the state of the economy as ‘poor’ or ‘not so good,’ or that just 27 percent said they have a good chance of improving their standard of living.
“Mr. President, President Biden likes to talk about creating, quote, “an economy that works for working families.”
“Well, I have news for the president.
“This economy is not working for working families.
“Working families can’t absorb an additional $460 a month.
“They have to cut back.
“They have to put off needed car repairs or eliminate a family vacation or cut down on milk for the kids.
“The president said the other day, and I quote, ‘[The economy] is strong as can be but for inflation, but for gas and food.’
“‘But for gas and food.’
“Well, Mr. President, I have to tell you, gas and food prices are two pretty essential economic measures for families.
“Moms and dads wondering how they can afford to fill up their cars to get to work and get the kids to baseball practice don’t care how good the president says the economy is if the price of a tank of gas has more than doubled since the president took office.
“Mr. President, I guess we can at least be glad that Democrats and the president have finally started acknowledging our inflation crisis.
“For months last year as inflation climbed, the administration dismissed concerns.
“And even as it became more and more clear that we had a long-term problem on our hands, the president and congressional Democrats spent their time focusing not on solutions to our inflation crisis, but on a massive spending spree almost guaranteed to make our inflation problem worse.
“Let’s remember how we got here, Mr. President.
“When President Biden took office, inflation was at 1.4 percent – well within the Fed’s target inflation rate of 2 percent.
“And it might have stayed there had Democrats not decided to pass a massive, partisan, $1.9 trillion spending spree under the guise of COVID relief – mere weeks after Congress had passed a fifth bipartisan COVID bill that met essentially all current pressing COVID needs.
“Democrats’ so-called American Rescue Plan sent a lot of unnecessary government money into the economy.
“And the economy overheated as a result.
“And you don’t have to take my word for it.
“Here’s what one Democrat economist who worked in the Obama administration had to say on the subject: ‘The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in the early days of the Biden administration will go down in history as an extraordinary policy mistake.’
“Let me just repeat that, Mr. President.
“‘The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in the early days of the Biden administration will go down in history as an extraordinary policy mistake.’
“Mr. President, Democrats were warned that the American Rescue Plan ran the risk of overstimulating the economy.
“They went ahead anyway.
“But what’s almost worse was their subsequent decision to pursue another massive spending spree – their Build Back Better plan – even after it had become clear that their first spending spree had helped plunge our economy into a serious inflation crisis.
“And even now, Mr. President – even now, as Americans deal with the worst inflation in decades – it’s looking like Democrats are trying to revive elements of their Build Back Better plan and use reconciliation rules to pass another partisan spending spree.
“It’s the triumph of big-government ideology over economic reality.
“And if Democrats succeed in passing another partisan spending spree using reconciliation rules, Americans’ economic situation is going to get even worse.
“Mr. President, unfortunately there is no easy solution to Democrats’ largely self-inflicted inflation crisis.
“But the first priority is to do no more harm.
“That means no more partisan spending sprees like Democrats’ Build Back Better plan.
“Another big priority should be unleashing American energy production – in particular domestic production of oil and natural gas – to ease energy prices.
“High gas and energy prices fuel higher consumer prices across the board.
“And unleashing American energy production would not only help reduce the price of gas, but could also help rein in prices for other commodities.
“Unfortunately, the president has demonstrated a clear hostility to conventional energy production, which is discouraging investment in American energy – and prolonging the current gas price situation.
“Another thing we should be doing to help make life easier for consumers is trying to ease supply chain woes – whether that involves removing burdensome trucking regulations or passing legislation like my Ocean Shipping Reform Act.
“I am pleased that both Democrats and Republicans have come together to support my bipartisan legislation, which I introduced with Senator Klobuchar earlier this year.
“I’m particularly grateful to my fellow South Dakotan Representative Dusty Johnson, who helped usher this legislation through the House.
“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will help ease supply chain pressures by addressing unfair ocean carrier practices, speeding up the resolution of detention and demurrage disputes, and improving the movement of goods at our nation’s ports.
“It won’t solve our nation’s inflation crisis, but it should help make life easier for U.S. exporters, importers, and consumers alike.
“I’m very pleased that this legislation passed the House of Representatives yesterday, and that it will soon be on its way to the president’s desk.
“And I hope that we will be able to pursue more bipartisan propositions to help make life easier for American families.
“Mr. President, Democrats’ big-spending, big-government agenda has resulted in a lot of pain for working families.
“If President Biden and Democrats really want to make life better for ordinary Americans, they will decisively reject any further spending sprees and work with Republicans to do what we can to alleviate the inflation crisis Democrats helped create.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”