We’ve broken another record. Unfortunately, not the kind to boast about. Last week, the latest Consumer Price Index exceeded inflation expectations at a staggering 9.1%. In Utah, that rate is much higher.
The Biden administration’s evolving blame game has shifted its focus from the pandemic to the supply chain, from the supply chain to Putin. But there is a more coherent answer: government continues to spend more than it has. Last year, Congress spent 6.8 trillion dollars, while collecting just over 4 trillion in revenue. With the return of legislative ear marks, pork-barrel spending has increased over 1700%.
Rather than recognizing the problems associated with spending more than it brings in, the government simply prints itself more money. Like a child stricken with affluenza, rather than being cut off, the government simply helps itself to more money. It doesn’t take long to lose the value of a dollar when you’re not spending your own money. Government is no different. While hardworking Americans pinch pennies, lawmakers spend carelessly. To pay for their next project, they threaten to raise taxes. When they don’t have the support to raise taxes, they nevertheless continue to spend and drive-up inflation. Inflation is nothing but an invisible tax on the people.
With no action, the reckless spending will drive us off a financial cliff. I have consistently called for a balanced budget amendment. But, our spending trajectory is such that we cannot afford to wait for the consensus needed to pass a constitutional amendment. While hardworking Americans wait, I’ve introduced the Preventing Runaway Inflation in Consumer Expenditures (PRICE) Act to stop the bleeding. The PRICE Act requires a three-fifths majority of Senators to approve new spending measures when the nation’s inflation rate is at or above 3%.
The PRICE Act is desperately needed. This insatiable spending machine is now costing Utahns 881 dollars a month more than they paid last year, and that’s on top of what they already pay in taxes. Those are 881 dollars for which Utahns receive nothing in return. It represents money that could be spent toward their mortgage, toward their child’s college education, towards filling their empty gas tank. Instead, millions of Americans will look at the skyrocketing cost of living and determine they must sacrifice their wants just to meet their needs.
My PRICE Act flips the script. It doesn’t altogether prevent lawmakers from spending when inflation is above 3%, but it requires lawmakers to offset that spending with cuts from somewhere else. In essence, it puts the impetus on Congress to weigh its legislative wants against the legislative needs of the American people.
That’s because for everyone living in reality, a budget means something. Failure to live within that budget has profound consequences. When Jack has to pay an extra $93 a month on food, he begins to doubt his ability to feed his family. When Jill has to pay an extra $145 a month for housing, she doubts her ability to keep a roof over her child’s head. When Joe has to pay an extra $404 dollars on transportation, he doubts his ability to get his child to and from practice. So why is it that when inflation is at 9.1%, lawmakers are still spending? As Americans are filled with financial fear and doubt, why is it that Democrats want to spend an additional trillion dollars for their Build Back Better Plan?
Congress is failing to exercise self-restraint during unprecedented inflation. As Americans tighten their belts, Congress has opened the spigot. If a household ran this disaster of a budget, the family would quickly be met with foreclosures, repossessions, and bankruptcy. Ronald Reagan couldn’t have been more prescient when he described inflation as “the price we pay for those government benefits everybody thought were free.” While members tout their shiny new pet projects, Americans are footing the bill.
It is unconscionable that Congress continues to pat itself on the back for passing massive spending bills while the country has a financial millstone around its neck. It’s high time that Congress subject itself to the same cutbacks working class families are facing now. Although I wish members of Congress would self-impose these restraints, the Democrats push for a new trillion-dollar spending plan shows that is unlikely to happen. Given our demonstrated lack of self-restraint, it’s time to pass the PRICE Act.