Inflation is back, and Americans are nervous. They aren’t buying the Democratic line that it’s just a temporary response to an increase in demand that hasn’t yet caught up to supply chain problems.
All they know is that things — from groceries to gasoline to rent — cost more, and salaries aren’t keeping pace.
Americans also like the idea that bipartisan compromises can advance ideas in the fairest way. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Utah Sen. Mitt Romney helped craft is a rare example of cooperation in the modern, hyperpartisan age. Its passage in the Senate was a big deal.
All of this puts Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a tight spot with her own party.
To placate the left wing of the House, Pelosi is holding the Senate’s infrastructure bill hostage to a much larger, almost incomprehensible $3.5 trillion budget resolution (the actual bill hasn’t been written yet) that promises to be filled with all sorts of expensive goodies, from free college tuition to a vast expansion of Medicare. This, too, passed the Senate, but along purely partisan lines.
In the House, the left-wing of the Democratic Party won’t vote for the smaller infrastructure bill unless the larger budget resolution passes first. But nine moderate Democratic House members have sent a letter to Pelosi saying they won’t vote for the larger resolution unless the smaller bill is put to a vote first.
It is folly for the speaker to not move forward with a bipartisan bill that the public wants.
Average Americans, nervously eyeing their thinning pocket books, are not impressed by these shenanigans, and that may have implications for the 2022 election.
A Hill-HarrisX poll earlier this year found 69% of registered voters saying it was more important for Republicans and Democrats both to vote in favor of an infrastructure bill than to have it rammed through by one party. Among Democrats, the figure was 58%, still a solid majority.
Even though many conservative Republicans oppose that bill, it passed the Senate with 19 Republican supporters. Americans clearly prefer that to a one-sided approach.
Pelosi’s refusal to put the compromise bill to a quick vote defies those sentiments.
Polling can be tricky. Several recent ones have shown majority support for the $3.5 trillion budget plan. However, it would be wrong to separate those results from feelings about the results of profligate spending.
For example, a recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 59% of registered voters blame the Biden administration’s policies for the current spike in inflation. Among independents, the figure was 58%.
Inflation in July increased prices by 5.4% over a year ago, which was virtually identical to the figure in June. Supply chain problems might have caused spikes in the cost of cars, lumber and some other items. But the glut in government spending during the past year, for everything from forgivable business loans to direct payments to most Americans, has flooded the nation with money. It wasn’t all done under President Joe Biden, but Americans clearly feel his policies aren’t helping, and those policies call for greater spending.
As the cost of goods and materials rise, salaries struggle to keep pace. Consumer confidence, currently at the highest level since the pandemic started, will likely dip. Looming behind all this is a pandemic that once again is surging, threatening another economic slowdown.
If inflation continues, the interest on the nation’s growing national debt will rise, as well, further threatening prosperity.
We agree with Utah Rep. John Curtis, who said recently that the nation has had enough of the idea that government spending is the answer to everything.
“The nation is in desperate need of a fiscal diet,” he said in a statement. “These bills may be attractive to the many who see money coming their way, but it is not the Utah way — nor is it the way I vote.”
Rep. Chris Stewart and Utah Sen. Mike Lee also strongly oppose the $3.5 trillion budget bill and the move to link the two, with Romney also against the push by Democrats.
Said Lee: “I would dare say it’s more money than has ever been spent at any one time for one legislative proposal, not just of the United States of America but of the history of the world.”
The proposed budget bill, when combined with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, would add nearly $5 trillion in government spending.
Americans, who increasingly have to scrimp to do something Washington won’t come close to doing — making ends meet — aren’t likely to stand for that.