Republicans have a new ‘big lie.’ This time it’s about inflation

Published 2:34 p.m. Thursday

By Alma Adams

Republicans have a new “big lie,” and it’s about inflation.

Around the world, the price of food, fuel and other essentials has gone up by almost 10% over the past year. In the United States, this has happened even as jobs numbers and unemployment have improved under President Biden.

From stickers at the gas pumps blaming Biden for energy industry price-gouging, to claims of “Bidenflation,” Republicans are winning the messaging war on inflation.

However, Democrats can’t be silent. High prices are a fundamental kitchen table issue for American families, so Democrats can’t let one party dominate the conversation — especially when Republicans’ fundamental argument on inflation is a lie, and when most of the potential solutions are coming from Democratic legislators and leaders.

The keystone of the Republican argument on inflation is that President Biden’s deficit spending caused inflation to rise dramatically. Florida Sen. Rick Scott made this argument last year, saying, “...thanks to the insane tax-and-spending spree of President Joe Biden and Democrats in Washington, we are seeing six straight months of raging inflation.”

However, PolitiFact rated the claim “mostly false” because the majority of deficit spending over the past six years was signed into law by President Donald Trump.

That’s important, because when Republicans make the case that Washington “spending sprees” are causing inflation, they are blaming themselves. In fiscal year 2020, the last full year of Trump’s presidency, the government ran a deficit of over $3.1 trillion, the largest of all time and the largest as a percentage of GDP since World War II. 

And, there is something Republicans don’t want you to know about inflation: Trickle-down tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — like Trump’s 2017 tax package — have the potential to exacerbate inflation and raise prices.

How is President Biden doing by comparison?

As of April 2022, the deficit so far this fiscal year — the first full year of Biden’s presidency — is $295 billion, one-fifth of what it was at the same time in Trump’s worst year. In all fairness, Biden’s deficit would be larger if the Build Back Better package I voted for had been signed into law, but much of that assistance would have gone directly to working families, giving them resources they need to afford higher prices.

Of course, the pressures behind inflation are more complicated: The government increased spending due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also caused supply chain problems that increased prices. Rising fuel costs have a multiplier effect and increase the cost of bringing goods to market, which also gets passed on to the consumer. Energy companies and others are taking advantage of the economic crisis to price gouge and increase shareholder profits, passing the costs on to working families.

In Congress, Democrats are passing legislation to combat inflation. Last week, the House passed the Lower Food And Fuel Costs Act, a package of bipartisan bills to lower prices for America’s families in the grocery aisle and at the gas pump by giving America’s farmers and ranchers the support they need to thrive, as well as the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which will further decrease the cost of getting goods to market.

In May, we passed the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act give President Biden the power to crack down on oil and gas price gouging. In spite of ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell posting combined profits of over $30 billion in the first quarter of this year, and despite the pain Americans are feeling at the pump, every Republican in the House voted against our anti-price gouging legislation.

House and Senate Democrats are taking action to lower consumer prices, while Republican leaders are implicitly admitting to making the biggest contribution to inflation. We shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth to the American people.

Congresswoman Alma Adams represents North Carolina’s 12th District (Charlotte) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This column first appeared in The News and Observer.