More of the same

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More of the Same
by French Hill
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
June 17, 2022

More of the Same

When I saw Mr. Biden's op-ed on inflation in The Wall Street Journal, I was hopeful he would offer meaningful solutions to address rising costs Arkansans see at the grocery store, in their electric bills, and at the gas pump because of his policies. Like many readers, I came away disappointed and uninspired. This administration bounces from crisis to crisis, whether that's the southwest border, the economy, or its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, and always seems to blame everyone and everything but its own poor policy choices. But Americans aren't fooled by the smoke and mirrors tactics.

In his op-ed, we heard more of the same from Mr. Biden. Pointing fingers at everybody else for high inflation, doubling down on aspects of his Build Back Better agenda like massive, misdirected green energy spending, and no acknowledgement or regret over how his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan threw gasoline on the fire and led to the brutal reality of 40-year highs in inflation currently crushing family and business budgets.

His first attempt to deflect blame for high inflation came in the form of blaming Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine on higher prices in the United States. While gas prices increased after Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, inflation was high before and increased every month under President Biden. In January 2022, consumer prices were already up 7.5 percent over the last year.

The reality is, our central bank, the Federal Reserve, waited too long to act to contain inflation. I've long said that the Fed should have started the process of shrinking its enormous purchases of government securities and raising interest rates well over a year ago. Unprecedented spending like the nearly $2 trillion of unpaid-for spending in March 2021 combined with some of the most accommodative monetary policy in history is the perfect storm for inflation. Even former Obama officials like Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and economic advisor Steve Rattner say the real cause of inflation is excessive spending and loose monetary policy. All of us wish Mr. Biden would have listened.

In the wake of Putin's invasion into Ukraine, Mr. Biden should have immediately acted to blunt regulatory and progressive agenda failures and unleashed domestic energy production to pre-pandemic levels and offer a lifeline of oil and American liquefied natural gas to our allies in Europe to offset Russian oil imports. Energy policy failure rests squarely with President Biden, and from day one, his administration waged war on domestic production. It canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, putting hundreds of Arkansans out of work, rolled back important reforms to the environmental review and permitting process put in place by the Trump administration, and recently canceled three offshore oil and gas lease auctions. Democrats and Mr. Biden also proposed to raise taxes by $145 billion on American energy producers, and the Biden bank and securities regulators are using threats and regulatory proposals to starve the energy industry of critical capital.

In his op-ed, Mr. Biden encouraged Congress to advance clean-energy credits. That will do nothing to ease prices at the pump. We cannot regulate and mandate our way to a clean-energy future. The path to a clean-energy future lies with advanced, clean nuclear power, fewer government mandates, embracing an all-of-the-above energy policy, and the power of the free market.

Mr. Biden also points to his new Housing Supply Action Plan as the cure-all to address housing affordability and claims that it will close the housing shortfall in five years. But a close read indicates his "plan" is to punt to Congress and suggest unambitious reforms that only nibble at the edges. Let's be clear: Mr. Biden's new plan will not meaningfully lower the cost of housing for Arkansans. The administration should focus on lowering the cost of construction materials like lumber and steel through trade policy, getting Americans back to work to mitigate the labor shortage in the homebuilding industry, and addressing local regulatory barriers to housing construction.

Finally, Mr. Biden said we need to reduce the federal deficit. I agree! And while he points to the recent CBO report projecting the deficit will fall by over $1 trillion this year, he failed to mention the same report projects a $16 trillion debt increase by 2032 and a 110 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. Washington needs to get its fiscal house in order. That means reining in spending and not spending his recommended $72 trillion over the next 10 years as that same report projects.

Like a true politician, the president's rhetoric and spin don't match reality. Mr. Biden offers lip service to the right things, but does the opposite. Congress needs to prioritize policies that rein in spending, boost domestic energy production, and put forth solutions that will make a difference for central Arkansans.

U.S. Rep. French Hill represents Arkansas' 2nd District.

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