Vulnerable Democrats sound alarm bells over inflation crisis

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CNN

The cost of consumer goods has reached its highest level in four decades. But in some of the nation’s most important battleground races, the situation is even more dire for Democrats, who have seen their constituents hit by price increases above the national average.

In Phoenix, Arizona — a state where Democratic Senator Mark Kelly faces one of the toughest re-election races this fall — the cost of goods rose 12.3% from June 2021 to June 2022, according to the labor department. This is more than three points above the national average, which reached 9.1%.

Meanwhile, in metro Atlanta – which is represented by vulnerable Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock – costs have soared 11.5% over the same 12-month period.

The latest inflation numbers, particularly in key swing states that could determine Senate control, have shed light on growing political problems for President Joe Biden and his party, and explain why vulnerable Democrats have publicly sounded the alarm. alarm about this. Democrats desperate to retain control of Congress are now pleading with their administration and party leadership to help them fight higher prices more aggressively — and, in the process, retain their seats.

Kelly told CNN the Biden administration needs to “look for more opportunities to do things to cut costs.”

“Nine percent is a pretty big number,” Kelly added. “Families struggle to afford a lot of things and have tough decisions to make.”

Kelly noted that he has already asked Biden to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The administration announced on March 31 that it would release one million barrels of crude oil per day for six months.

“I probably don’t want to end this,” Kelly told CNN. “Gasoline prices have come down, but it’s still incredibly expensive, historically, and it’s unaffordable for a lot of families.”

And Warnock told CNN that Congress needs to suspend the federal gasoline tax and cap insulin prices. The first idea was shot down by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi because it’s unclear consumers would reap the rewards, but the second could soon see action in the Senate. Warnock also called for investing in semiconductor and microchip manufacturing in the United States. Warnock said some people now have to choose between buying groceries and buying prescription drugs.

“We can do something about it – and we have to,” Warnock added.

Inflation has become the top political issue for Americans, worrying jittery Democrats who know there is no quick fix in Washington to create greater supply and less demand for commodities. Vulnerable Democrats say inflation has dominated conversations both at home and in Washington, where the party is internally debating potential solutions with just over 110 days until the November election.

“This is an election for groceries and gas,” Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, head of the Republican National Congressional Committee, told CNN. “(The Biden administration) had these idiots saying inflation was going to be transitory, then it was Putin’s fault, and now it’s the Republicans’ fault. They just have to look in the mirror. And you know what, in November, that’s why they’re going to lose.

For months, Democrats have been unleashing a number of reasons why costs have risen. They accused Russian President Vladmir Putin of invading Ukraine and causing food and energy price increases, the pandemic of disrupting supply chains and oil companies of having allegedly taken advantage of consumers, despite the protests of some eminent economists.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration gave a new defense: The last inflation record was “outdated” because gasoline prices have fallen in recent weeks.

But that response was not enough for Democrats on Capitol Hill, as Republicans continued to hammer them on the issue.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the Republican National Senate Committee, said even if inflation were 7 or 8 percent, it would be “ridiculously high.”

“We’re going to win so many races on inflation,” Scott told CNN. “It’s horrible for the country. For the elections, it will help us, but think of these poor families who are hurting themselves.

Some Democrats are starting to point fingers at each other. New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan, a vulnerable Democrat, criticized the Biden administration’s handling of inflation, telling CNN, “I said for a while that I thought he and the administration had been too slow to react.

The White House, which initially failed to acknowledge the looming inflationary crisis, dispatched officials to Capitol Hill last month to try to arm Democrats with talking points about rising gas prices, inflation and other economic problems. But Democrats who attended the courier meeting said they left feeling less than satisfied, with one lawmaker saying the meeting turned “bitty” when it came to the question-and-answer portion.

“I just don’t believe we can try to sweeten things up with talking points, like people don’t know their own lives, their own bills and their own minds. … People are not stupid. There’s no point in trying to hide the ball,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, one of the most threatened House Democrats this fall, told CNN. “What I need is a plan. I’m not looking for email help.

Slotkin has called on his party’s leadership to hold weekly votes on bills aimed at reducing the exorbitant cost of consumer goods and gasoline prices. But some of the more realistic options — an economic package that would lower prescription drug prices and a competition bill in China that includes funding for semiconductor makers — are both stuck in limbo.

A Monmouth poll from earlier this summer asked Americans to name their family’s biggest concern. The most common answer was inflation (33%), followed by a series of related economic questions, including gas prices (15%), the economy (9%), and everyday bills like groceries (6%).

Since the start of 2021, campaigns and groups have spent $92 million on ads referencing inflation — more than other high-profile issues like immigration or guns, data shows. AdImpact. Republicans blamed Democrats for the economic mess and spent $54 million on the issue, more than double what Democrats spent defending themselves.

“This hurts families in Wisconsin – and I continue to emphasize that this did not happen by chance,” Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson, one of the Democrats’ top targets this fall, told CNN. . “It wasn’t just bad luck. This is caused by massive deficit spending. This is due to their war on fossil fuels, which has deliberately driven the cost of energy, of gasoline, to record highs.

When asked if he was concerned that the price hike could hurt the Democrats’ ability to hold the Senate 50-50, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, acknowledged that inflation was a “major” problem, some congressional bills noted. hopes to pass to lower prescription drug prices, and has pivoted to the Republican effort to remove the right to abortion.

“We understand that rising prices are clearly an issue for families and we are making efforts to help families with these rising costs,” Peters said. “And you contrast that with the Republicans, who are completely silent on how to fix anything, and in fact are engaged in extremist politics and want to take rights away from women, and don’t talk about the issues that are of concern Americans. ”

Similarly, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, who chairs the House Democrats’ campaign arm, admitted that inflation “is a problem” and encouraged his members to recognize the suffering of Americans while stressing the party’s plan to relieve consumers.

“We are working on the problem. The other side is trying to take advantage of it politically,” Maloney, who himself faces a competitive re-election race, told reporters. “What’s the Republican plan for inflation, other than driving people crazy to win an election?” They have no idea what they are going to do to fix the economy.

Republicans disputed that they had no plan to fight inflation.

“Stop deficit spending,” Johnson said. “Let’s use the God-given natural resources we have to drive down the cost of energy. Let’s have minimum work requirements for social benefits.

“Balancing the budget. Start cutting taxes. Reduce the regulatory environment. And become energy independent,” Scott said. American products.”



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