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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the impact record-high inflation is having on South Dakota’s families and businesses. Thune noted that Democrats refuse to focus on this crisis and are instead prioritizing reckless spending that will only make it worse.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, I don’t need to tell anyone – except perhaps the Democrat Party here in Congress – that our country has a major inflation problem.
“The first year of the Biden administration has been characterized by a huge increase in inflation.
“Inflation is currently at a 40-year high.
“Let me just repeat that, Mr. President.
“Inflation is currently at a 40-year high.
“The last time inflation was this bad, E.T. was just premiering in movie theaters, and Return of the Jedi hadn’t even come out yet.
“Inflation is so bad that despite wage increases in 2021, Americans saw a de facto pay cut.
“A December survey by the New York Times found that just 17 percent of Americans said their wages had kept up with inflation.
“Mr. President, the White House chief of staff may think inflation is a ‘high class problem,’ but for the mom at the grocery store wondering if she can afford to buy ground beef this week, or for the young worker just starting out who is wondering if she can afford to fill up her car, inflation is a very real problem.
“Americans are struggling.
“They’re facing huge price increases at the grocery store.
“Huge price increases at the gas pump.
“Big increases in the cost of household goods, like furniture and bedding and laundry equipment.
“Massive increases in the cost of fuel oil and gas service.
“Higher electricity bills.
“And on and on.
“Inflation is weighing down businesses too, from larger businesses to family farms and ranches.
“A recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Business found that 22 percent of small businesses consider inflation to be the biggest challenge facing their business – a 20-point increase from the beginning of 2021.
“A 20-point increase.
“It’s no wonder that 69 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of inflation, and 56 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy.
“Mr. President, inflation is a major burden for American families and businesses – a fact that seems utterly lost on members of the Democrat Party.
“While American families struggle, Democrats’ focus is on anything but inflation.
“What’s worse, many Democrats are still hoping to pass elements of their reckless tax-and-spending spree, the so-called Build Back Better plan, despite the fact that it was a bloated Democrat spending spree that helped get us into this inflation mess in the first place.
“While the pandemic created inflationary pressures, a big reason we’re in our current inflation mess is because of Democrats’ decision to push through an unnecessary, partisan $1.9 trillion spending bill last March.
“When Democrats took office last January, inflation was well within an acceptable range, or what’s known as the target inflation rate.
“And it might have stayed there, had Democrats not decided that they needed to pass a massive government spending spree under the guise of COVID relief – mere weeks after Congress had already passed a major COVID bill.
“December 2020 saw Congress pass its fifth bipartisan COVID relief bill – a nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation that met essentially all current pressing COVID needs.
“But the ink was barely dry on the page before Democrats decided that they needed to take advantage of the COVID situation to pass another bill – this time a hyper-partisan $1.9 trillion piece of legislation packed with unnecessary government spending and payoffs to Democrat interest groups.
“Mr. President, the definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods and services.
“And that’s exactly the situation Democrats helped create with their so-called American Rescue Plan.
“They sent too many federal dollars into the economy – and the economy overheated as a result.
“And now we’re sitting here with the worst inflation in 40 years, and instead of trying to address our inflation crisis, Democrats still want to double down on the strategy that helped get us into this mess in the first place.
“Reckless and irresponsible is putting it mildly.
“Mr. President, in January Senator Tim Scott and I introduced the Inflation Prevention Act – a bill to stop Congress from considering any legislation that contains new spending and is estimated to increase inflation if the year-over-year inflation rate exceeds 4.5 percent.
“One would hope that legislation like this wouldn’t be necessary at a time when inflation far exceeds the target inflation rate.
“But as we’ve seen with Democrats’ reckless tax-and-spending spree, that isn’t the case.
“And so Senator Tim Scott and I – along with several of our Republican colleagues – have introduced this bill, which would help prevent reckless spending legislation like the Democrats’ so-called Build Back Better Act when inflation is high.
“Mr. President, Americans are struggling.
“Everywhere they turn, they’re facing higher prices that are stretching their budgets to the limit.
“If Democrats really want to help American families, they should abandon their reckless tax-and-spending spree once and for all and focus on mitigating the damage they’ve already done with their inflationary spending.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”