A November 2021 Gallup poll identified inflation as one of the top five most important issues for Americans. This is no surprise considering the price increases we’re facing for everyday essentials. Each month, our dollars stretch less and too many are forced to make difficult decisions about their budgets.
Prices are going up faster than wages so our purchasing power has diminished. We’ve all experienced the higher prices at the pump. In the past year the cost for gasoline has increased 50 percent. The price for heating our homes is going up, with industry leaders expecting homeowners will pay about 30 percent more this winter to stay warm. At the grocery store beef and bacon are nearly 20 percent more expensive than last year. Food inflation is at its highest rate since the Carter administration, so every American feels the pinch with each trip to the supermarket.
In Arkansas, where agriculture is a vital component of our state’s economy, farmers are concerned about input costs. Land, machinery, labor, fuel, seed and livestock feed prices are all increasing. Fertilizer prices have spiked as much as 300 percent in some parts of the country. One agriculture economist at the Arkansas Division of Agriculture predicts 2022 will be an expensive year for producers. Farmers are afraid these predictions will become reality. A recent monthly survey from CME Group and Purdue University shows a majority of ag producers surveyed expect production costs to rise by at least 12 percent over the next year.
The National Federation of Independent Business reports inflation is the biggest problem for small business owners. Rising costs make it harder to sustain their operations and cloud the economic outlook, which is troubling given how integral local retailers and industries are to our communities.
Business leaders, agriculture producers and families in Arkansas raised alarms about inflation months ago. This has been a cause for concern for some time. More than six months ago I used this column to warn of the threat inflation posed if the Biden administration continued its irresponsible spending policies. Consumer prices have risen each month since, and we’re now experiencing the highest inflation rate since 1982.
Due to the failure of the White House and Democrats in Congress to address this urgent problem, life has become more difficult for too many Arkansans and Americans.
Even now, they are doubling down on partisan priorities and continuing to push for costly proposals that will hit hardworking Americans in their wallets. Despite the warning signs, the president has downplayed rising inflation and spent the entirety of 2021 fixated on unilaterally passing a cradle-to-grave, tax-and-spending agenda.
President Biden promised not to raise taxes on working-class Americans, but his policies and inaction have enabled rampant inflation, which is a hidden tax on those who can least afford it – seniors on fixed incomes, single parents and families living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Curbing these price increases should be a top priority. It’s time the president and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle join Republicans in pursuing solutions to reduce the hardships too many Arkansans and folks across the country are experiencing as a result of these misguided policies and misplaced priorities.