July 15, 2021
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor to discuss Americans’ concerns over Democrats’ costly policies that are fueling inflation and holding back the economy. Blunt noted that rising inflation, which has driven up the cost of cars, milk, and other everyday goods, was the top concern of people he spoke with at recent stops across Missouri.
Following Are Blunt’s Remarks:
“I think one of the important things of being outside of Washington is you get a chance to hear what really people are concerned about. We have all kinds of speeches given here every day of what members of the Congress are absolutely sure people are concerned about. I think that topic becomes much more crystal clear when you get home. I know it's certainly much more crystal clear to me when I'm home in Missouri.
“Over the Fourth of July holiday, there were a number of visits all over the state—Columbia, St. Louis, Montgomery City, Monroe City—lots of events everywhere in the state where I talked about the importance of getting the vaccine and the progress we were making there. But the first thing that people wanted to talk to me about was inflation.
“People are already seeing that prices are well above the numbers that they believe they're seeing, that the official numbers are confirming. In May, the national number was—at May of this year—prices were 5% higher than they were May a year ago. In June, they were 5.4% higher than they were a year ago. But people are seeing a lot of prices that are higher than that. The price of whole milk is up 7.5% from a year ago. The price of an airplane ticket average is up about 25% from a year ago. Used cars are more expensive than they were last June. In fact, they're 45% more expensive than they were a year ago in June.
“There's an incredible increase in the cost of things that not only people want to buy, but maybe more pressing, people have to buy and need to buy. A lot of people specifically talk to me about gas prices. I was on the road a lot, driving a lot while I was home. I saw those prices for myself. But the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline nationwide is about $3.15. That's 45% higher than June of last year.
“That's a hidden tax that working people pay every day. Whether it's the hidden tax on a glass of milk, the hidden tax on a tank of gas, the hidden tax on other things that they like to do or have to do. It makes a real difference. People who want to take a vacation or have to travel to work. You know, in the part of Missouri that I live in, there are a lot of little towns that have manufacturing jobs, but not unusual for somebody to drive 40 or 50 miles one way to get to that job. And if gasoline is 45% higher than it was a year ago, it makes a real difference. That's a real hidden tax. And it's usually a hidden tax on the people that the president rightly would not want to pass tax increases for.
“I think the administration has to start taking into account the issues that are out there. You know, Larry Summers and others from the Obama administration have warned [about] the great risk of inflation. But when we talk about energy, for instance, I think we have to do that clearly in a way that if we're making transitions in energy, we don't make those transitions in a way that needlessly have a negative impact on families and on opportunities.
“First few days in office, President Biden rescinded the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and not too long after that blocked the new oil and gas leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. These were things that the Congress had talked about for a long time and, in some cases, things Congress had specifically decided it was time to do. But an executive order from the president decided, 'no, we're going to head in a different direction.'
“That was just the beginning really of what my colleagues have seen in the discussion in the Congress and what my Democratic colleagues in the Congress have in mind. So if you like paying higher prices for gasoline, you're going to love what happens to the restrictions that go into effect and drive prices of all energy even higher.
“Now, the other thing I've talked to small business owners about, and frankly all business owners about, was the trouble finding enough workers. Republican governors in 25 states now have determined that that larger unemployment benefit kept people from going back to work. People were choosing to stay on the sidelines rather than go to work. And, frankly, if you look at that $618 weekly unemployment check that was the average in America in May, that unemployment check doesn't have any childcare costs associated with it, doesn't have any travel to work associated with it. You've got to have a job that pays a lot to not consider, 'if I'm continuing to get this check, why should I go back to work?'
“Well, Missouri was one of the 25 states decided that extra bonus not only is bad for families not going back to work, but it's bad for our economy. And so as of June the 12th, the return to the important but much lower normal unemployment benefit happened in our state. And I think you can already see people making the decision that it's time to go back to work.
“Now, surprisingly, even though we've created a lot of opportunities for people to stay home, we had a June economy that created 850,000 new jobs. We should all feel good about that. But if it's an economy that's creating 850,000 new jobs, at some point we've got to stop pushing money into that economy that we don't have. There are obviously a lot of factors in play here. But the 850,000 people going back to work is an important and a significant thing.
“Part of the explanation, obviously, is the rush by Republican governors principally to eliminate that bonus, but part of it is just simply an economy that's already beginning to rebound and rebounding based on the current tax structure and rebounding based on what governments already spend rather than this incredible rush to drive inflation even further.
“The Congressional Budget Office put out a new report recently that said the federal deficit for this fiscal year will be more than $3 trillion. The problem is nobody has any idea what $3 trillion really is, and that probably includes most of us. If I said the deficit was $3 million or $300,000 somehow divided up to every American family, they would immediately think, 'oh, my goodness, we could never deal with that.' But a $3 trillion deficit—and, by the way, just announced that there is a budget agreement on top of that $3 trillion deficit to spend another $3.5 trillion.
“It's time we started talking frankly about how much $3 trillion really is. That $3 trillion is something that somebody has to pay back sometime. All that borrowing and spending has been one of the big factors contributing to inflation, doesn't even count the $3.5 trillion, again, that have been added just overnight in that discussion.
“Some people are beginning to call this Bidenomics. I think the Congress has to take its shared responsibility here. The belief that we can spend without limit and that won't cause any problems is outrageous. The idea that we can pay people not to work, pay them more than they would make if they did work is outrageous. All these things lead to unintended consequences. The belief that high gas prices and inflation are just temporary, that people shouldn't be concerned about it? Well, people are concerned, and they should be concerned.
“I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will spend some time listening to people, hearing their concerns. I hope they'll reconsider their policies that are fueling inflation and holding back our economy.”