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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how the Democrats’ radical agenda and reckless spending has created the worst inflation crisis in 40 years. Thune noted that Democrats flooded the zone with unnecessary government money when they passed the American Rescue Plan last year, which caused the economy to overheat.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, Friday marked the first anniversary of the so-called American Rescue Plan – Democrats’ partisan, $1.9 trillion spending spree.
“Fittingly, the anniversary arrived just one day after the release of February’s inflation numbers – which marked the worst inflation since January of 1982.
“Mr. President, why do I say ‘fittingly’?
“Because the anniversary of the American Rescue Plan is basically the anniversary of our inflation crisis.
“While it’s true that supply chain issues and the reopening of economies after COVID shutdowns created certain inflationary pressures, a big part of the reason for our current inflation crisis is Democrats’ decision to pass the American Rescue Plan last March.
“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.
“Democrats came into office mere weeks after Congress had passed a fifth bipartisan COVID relief bill, totaling almost $1 trillion and meeting essentially all current pressing COVID needs.
“Our economy was well on its way to a healthy recovery.
“And the majority of states had the money they needed to deal with the pandemic.
“In short, it was abundantly clear that we were not in immediate need of trillions more in government spending.
“But that didn’t stop Democrats.
“Now that they were in charge, they were eager to take advantage of the COVID crisis to begin implementing their big-government vision.
“And so in the name of “COVID relief,” they pushed through a massive, partisan, $1.9 trillion piece of legislation filled with unnecessary spending and handouts to Democrat interest groups.
“Less than 9 percent of that $1.9 trillion was earmarked for actually combating COVID.
“The rest went to priorities like a $350 billion slush fund for states.
“A bailout for union pensions.
“Rental assistance far in excess of anything that was needed.
“And the list goes on.
“Despite being billed as essential COVID relief, a substantial portion of the money appropriated will not be spent until 2022 or later.
“And despite the pressing need for workers to fill the millions of available job openings, Democrats created incentives for Americans to stay on unemployment instead of returning to work by extending enhanced unemployment benefits until September 2021 – long after they were likely to be needed.
“The end result of all this was entirely predictable.
“Democrats flooded the economy with unnecessary government money, and the economy overheated as a result.
“And you don’t have to take my word for it.
“Here’s what Steven Rattner, who served in the Obama administration, had to say in November: ‘The original sin was the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, passed in March. The bill — almost completely unfunded — sought to counter the effects of the Covid pandemic by focusing on demand-side stimulus rather than on investment. That has contributed materially to today’s inflation levels.’
“Or as another former Obama administration member put it, ‘The United States has had much more inflation than almost any other advanced economy in the world,’ said Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University and former Obama administration economic adviser … The difference, he said, comes because ‘the United States’ stimulus is in a category of its own.’
“Mr. President, inflation started to rise almost as soon as the ink was dry on the American Rescue Plan.
“And it just keeps rising.
“February’s 7.9 percent inflation marks the worst inflation since January of 1982.
“January of 1982.
“Forty years ago.
“And Americans are struggling.
“Just going to the grocery store is taking up a larger and larger portion of Americans’ paychecks.
“Ground beef is up 13 percent.
“Eggs are up 11 percent.
“Citrus fruits are up 16 percent.
“Chicken is up 13 percent.
“Milk is up 11 percent.
“Bacon and related products are up 18 percent.
“And on and on and on.
“One American quoted in the New York Times noted that bacon is now as expensive as filet mignon used to be.
“Ordinary goods are starting to feel like luxury objects, as more and more families struggle to afford basic grocery items.
“A Washington Post columnist noted that a number of the price increases recorded for February were the highest annual increases ever recorded for those items, including an 8.4 percent increase in the price of baby food and an 11 percent increase in the cost of lunchmeat.
“Mr. President, in a speech to House Democrats last week, the president suggested that he was, quote, ‘sick of’ people saying that Democrats’ reckless spending had helped cause our inflation crisis.
“‘[T]he American people think the reason for inflation is the government is spending more money. Simply not true,’ he said.
“Well, Mr. President, there are a lot of economists who would disagree with him – including the two Democrat economists I’ve already quoted.
“The president himself actually admitted in November that his stimulus checks helped increase the demand fueling inflation.
“But I’m sorry that President Biden is sick of having people point this out.
“But you know who else is sick and tired of things, Mr. President?
“The American people.
“They’re sick and tired of facing massive price increases everywhere they look.
“They’re sick of increasingly having to live paycheck to paycheck, as they wonder just how much further grocery prices will go up.
“They’re sick of wondering if they’ll be able to pay all of next month’s bills.
“And whether President Biden likes it or not, his so-called American Rescue Plan is responsible for a substantial part of the economic distress Americans are now experiencing.
“And while President Biden may be sick of it, we need to keep talking about this, because the president is STILL trying to double down on the spending strategy that helped create this inflation crisis in the first place.
“Just two weeks ago, in his State of the Union address, the president discussed inflation and then outlined his hopes for massive new amounts of government spending – spending that would unquestionably take an already bad inflation situation and make it even worse.
“It’s nice that the president and congressional Democrats are now talking about our inflation crisis.
“But it would be even nicer if they would realize that it was their spending that helped trigger this crisis in the first place.
“Otherwise we will continue to see Democrats push for ever-bigger increases in government spending – with correspondingly devastating price increases for American families.
“Mr. President, the American Rescue Plan was a bad deal for Americans.
“Let’s hope that Democrats do not have the chance to double down on this legislation and make our current inflation crisis even worse.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”