Delaware Valley Democrats, some already facing a tough electoral environment next year, got hit with more bad news Friday: Inflation reached a 39-year high, and voters believe the federal spending in Washington is part of the problem.
Friday morning, the Labor Department reported the consumer-price index jumped to its highest rate in 39 years, rising to 6.8 percent in November. It is the sixth consecutive month inflation was higher than 5 percent. That is a blow to Democrats like U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan and Madeleine Dean, who voted for trillions in new federal spending and likely face serious challenges in the 2022 midterms.
Hours later, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better spending plan found the bill would add $2.8 trillion more to the national debt than originally projected. Despite claims by President Joe Biden and Dean that the CBO found the BBB spending plan is “fully paid for,” the agency has always said the proposal will add between $160 billion and $367 billion to the deficit.
“This holiday season Pennsylvania families are having to empty their wallets for gas, groceries, and gifts—and some of them can’t afford all three. Prices have skyrocketed to a 39-year high and consumer prices in the Northeast are up a costly 6 percent,” said Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas. “Next November, Pennsylvania Democrats will be held responsible for Joe Biden’s reckless policies, which are hurting Main Street businesses, eating up workers’ gains, and crippling our economy.”
The cost of a frozen turkey for this past Thanksgiving was up 20 percent from last year, and the entire meal cost the average family 10 percent more.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said, “Today’s jaw-dropping inflation report should alarm every single American, but especially policymakers. Hardworking American families are suffering as a direct result of the Biden administration’s reckless borrowing and spending and anti-energy policies. If the message wasn’t clear enough before, it’s crystal clear now. Democrats should immediately halt plans to advance their nearly $5 trillion spending spree and the Fed should quickly normalize monetary policy before it falls further behind the curve.”
Guy Ciarrocchi, a Republican running for governor who is on leave from his job as president of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce, said, “Inflation is the cruelest of all taxes. It eats away at a family’s savings each week, each month. The good news is that bad government policies created this; so good policies can fix it. Step one and two: Time for almost everyone to get back to work and let’s get Pennsylvania energy out of the ground.”
Some Democrats are pushing back and claiming costs are actually going down in December and contending their policies are working so the Christmas ham won’t be as pricey as the Thanksgiving gobbler.
“As we head into the holiday season, I recognize that the pressure of increased costs is weighing heavily on many Americans,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware Co.). “My colleagues and I are working hand-in-hand with the Biden administration to get people back to work, address supply chain issues, and lower prices — and there is good news on those fronts.
“Americans, on average, have about $100 more in their pockets each month than they did last year, even after adjusting for inflation, thanks to rising wages and the Child Tax Credit passed as part of the American Rescue Plan,” said Scanlon. “In December, costs have also been falling for gas, used cars, and other goods that are driving inflation; these changes aren’t reflected in the latest Consumer Price Index report. I know the past several months have been tough, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
But consumers and business owners are holding onto their wallets as polls consistently show voters believe federal spending is making inflation worse, not better.
Maryann Brown, a pharmacist living in Warminster, said gas prices are down a bit, but other items are up.
“Grocery prices are high so I shop at Aldi or a grocery outlet,” said Brown. “Electricity is going up so I turn off all unused lights. Stamps are up, so I’m sending out fewer cards this year. I use coupons like at Old Navy or Kohl’s ‘cash’ since the prices are up.”
Wendy Klinghoffer, executive director of the Eastern Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, said, “Obviously, it’s a major issue because the cost of goods and services went up for both purchasing as well as personnel.”
“For small businesses in particular, this is problematic,” said Klinghoffer. While business owners are reluctant to pass costs along to consumers “at some point they have to in order to stay in business. They have to recoup their costs.”
Meanwhile, the restaurant sector was particularly hard hit during the pandemic shutdowns and is still struggling with food and wages now increasing due to inflation, she said.
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr noted inflation is the highest since 1982.
“Our economy is already overwhelmed with supply-chain issues, a workforce shortage, and an increase in consumer demand, particularly during the holiday season,” Barr said. “A high inflation rate hampers economic recovery and can be particularly painful on small businesses as they are less able to withstand challenges to their financial goals. As products and services get more expensive, there is no doubt that consumption will continue to fall.”
Barr called on Congress to drop the pending tax and reconciliation bill that would add “another $150 billion in transfer payments and tax cuts, plus additional spending will be a recipe for disaster for more inflation over the next year. We must continue to prioritize rebuilding our economy, and this bill is a roadblock to long-term economic recovery.”
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