[Congressional Record Volume 168, Number 117 (Friday, July 15, 2022)]
[Pages H6675-H6677]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                          INFLATION IN AMERICA

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 4, 2021, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. 
Schweikert) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am going to yield to my 
friend from Florida, the sheriff, such time as he may consume.

                        War on Affordable Energy

  Mr. RUTHERFORD. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Madam Speaker, this week's Consumer Price Index report indicates that 
we just reached a 40-year high in June. This kind of inflation is a tax 
on every American and a threat to our middle-class families.
  As a result of Democrats' reckless, trillion-dollar inflationary 
spending, hardworking Americans are taking a pay cut, and failed relief 
plans have caused unprecedented financial challenges to the U.S. 
economy, hitting the American taxpayers the hardest.
  Some of my friends on the other side of the aisle blame the inflation 
on the war in Ukraine, but Americans faced sharp, rising inflation long 
before Russia invaded Ukraine.
  Now, additional price increases across the board continue to eat away 
at the paychecks of this Nation's workforce, making it even harder to 
achieve the American Dream for millions of Americans.
  I am sure many of my colleagues can relate when I say I have 
conversations back home with folks who are struggling to afford 
everyday essentials, including baby formula and fuel, that continue to 
be in short supply.
  President Biden and the Democrats' lack of concrete solutions are 
falling short. The President's first action upon taking office was to 
end construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and issue a moratorium on 
new oil and gas permits on Federal lands.
  His most recent efforts to court oil deals with our hostile 
counterparts in Saudi Arabia are futile. In fact, it was embarrassing 
  Increasing America's energy independence is the best way to alleviate 
the pressure Americans feel at the gas pump. This means producing more 
American energy, not less. Restoring American energy production here at 
home will make our country more prosperous and secure while lowering 
the price at the gas pump.
  I recently cosponsored the American Energy Independence from Russia 
Act which would reopen the Keystone XL pipeline, increase our natural 
gas production and exports, encourage energy and mineral development on 
foreign lands, and prevent needless regulation on domestic oil and gas 
  However, those across the aisle have consistently blocked this 
legislation for a total of seven times. Seven times.
  This war on affordable energy production is the main culprit for both 
the high gas prices and skyrocketing food prices. Given the current 
economic climate, it is critical that Congress thoroughly consider how 
legislation will contribute to future inflation.
  For this reason, I cosponsored the Informed Lawmaking to Combat 
Inflation Act. This would require the Congressional Budget Office to 
provide an inflation estimate for major pieces of legislation so that 
Members of Congress can be best informed about how these spending bills 
will impact inflation.
  I also supported the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 
which lowered tax rates for all Americans and simplified our tax code. 
We must continue efforts to lower taxes, not raise taxes, especially at 
a time like this.

                              {time}  1600

  We should take this opportunity to make the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax 
cuts permanent. The President's inflation crisis is already costing the 
American U.S. household $6,000 as they encounter the skyrocketing cost 
of goods.
  The American people deserve commonsense solutions that will help ease 
the economic burden. Future generations of Americans depend on the 
financial decisions made today. I will keep fighting for real relief 
for hardworking Americans and am focused on legislation that supports 
the middle class and allows hardworking Floridians and others to keep 
more of their paychecks, allowing families to better save for college, 
invest in their retirement, and spend more time with their loved ones.
  Mr. SCHWEIKERT. I thank my friend from Florida.
  Madam Speaker, we are going to try to do the rapid boards and try to 
show some data of what is going on out there.
  What I am going to do is going to be a little harsh, but I need to 
beg the majority to think about the information. The data we are going 
to show may just prove, please, you have got to stop what you are 
doing. You are hurting people. The cascade may already be built in. We 
may now have years of really ugly, really bad, hurtful, cruel built 
into the economy.
  Now, look, part of my premise is that good policy is not only good 
for the United States, it is good for the world, it is good for growth, 
it is good for the future, it is good for poverty, it closes income 
  You actually go back to after the 2017 tax reform. The Democrats came 
to these mikes and said: Oh, the world is coming to an end; there is 
going to be a recession. None of it was true, and they knew it wasn't 
true even though an economist said it wasn't true. You had some of the 
greatest growth in U.S. history, some of the fastest closing of income 
inequality, the poor got dramatically less poor, but you also saw GDP 
around the world got better.
  Look, when I am holding articles like this about how many may die 
this coming fall because of food shortages, that is not the Democrats, 
but the Democrats' inaction is their fault. They run this place. They 
run the House, they run the Senate, they run the White House. Instead, 
the White House, along with the Democrats here, decide hey, let's burn 
some more ethanol by taking our food, our grain supply, and instead of 
doing the rotation, saying we need to stop this, we need to turn that 
into animal feed, you know, there is a fertilizer shortage, let's grow 
soybeans, the things to get prepared. They were so worried about their 
next election. The idiocy of this place is they were willing to 
sacrifice people around the world. That is the cruelty that continues 
to be Democrat policy.
  Let's actually sort of walk through what Democrats are doing to 
Americans. When I am holding boards with quotes from Jason Furman, 
something is wrong in the world.
  ``The decline in real average hourly earnings at this point is 
terrible, the fastest pace of decline in 40 years.''
  What is Jason Furman saying?
  He is basically saying people are getting poorer every single day.
  The Democrats have owned this place now for, what, 16 months? You 
have got 16 months functionally of people being poorer every single 
  But what does that mean?
  You have Republican after Republican. You notice the Democrats almost 
never want to talk about what they have set off. We bring boards like 
this, and we say: Hey, do you realize your eggs are 33 percent more 
expensive? Nondurable goods, if you take the whole category, there was 
a number a couple days ago, the inflation number that was almost in the 
30s on nondurable goods for that monthly snapshot.
  But I need you to think much more grand in understanding inflation. 
Inflation is a lot more than you are paying 21 percent more for your 
butter. I need you to understand what inflation means to you and your 
family's survival and the cruelty of this place not giving a damn, the 
cruelty of this place being unwilling to actually do real legislation 
that would help.
  They basically have decided: Oh, we are going to pretend it is the 
Fed's fault, it is Russia's fault, and this place

[[Page H6676]]

isn't going to do anything. We are going to let the Federal Reserve 
jack up interest rates to the point where they put lots of people out 
of work, have that misery, and somehow Democrats think they are not 
going to be held responsible for what they have done?
  I was trying to come up with a way to help someone understand what 
inflation really means to your life. Well, this is a snapshot of the 
Democrats' congressional calendar. I represent the Scottsdale-Phoenix 
area, highest inflation in the continental United States. If you are a 
worker in my area and you haven't had a pay raise, but you still 
actually do things like eat, drive, live in shelter, do you understand 
how many days you are now working for free?
  You need to think this through. You work so many days, but take a 
look down here, you functionally have lost almost 2 months of labor 
just for the inflation from the last 16 months. Think about that. If I 
came to you right now and said, Hey, guess what? You are going to lose 
41 days of your labor. You are going to work for the government. 
Actually, you are going to work for the government for free. Because 
what is the great scam? Where did this money actually go?
  I need you to conceptualize the value of your time that has been 
stripped from you. It didn't just disappear. That value functionally 
went to debt. It lowered the value of debt by raising your own costs. 
So you have actually sort of transferred a bunch of your wealth to the 
U.S. sovereign debt. It is a little ethereal to process, but that is 
functionally what happened.
  So the trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars 
of debt this place has piled up, the Democrats found a way to tax you. 
They basically set off inflation. They took away a couple months, a 
couple months of your labor, and then functionally transferred it so 
that will pay back these trillions and trillions and trillions of 
dollars of debt but will pay it back with dollars that are worth less.

  Do you see the picture? Maybe that is the real reason the left here 
isn't on fire trying to save people from this misery.
  And it is dead serious. You can do the June 2021 or since December. 
If you do December, particularly for my Phoenix area--and I am the 
highest inflation in the continental United States. For the entire 
country, apparently urban Alaska--who ever knew that was a subcategory 
economic zone?--is slightly higher than us.
  But if you go back to since December 2020, you have lost 1.9 months 
of your labor. The reason I am trying to chart it this way is people 
go, Oh, eggs are only 20 percent more, how many eggs are you going to 
eat? I need you to think about this, of how many days you are working 
not to feed your family anymore, not to pay your mortgage or your rent. 
You are basically giving it away. It has been ripped; it has been 
stripped away from you. And you start to think about that.
  If you go since June 2021, you have lost 40 days of work that has 
been stripped away from you, the value. You worked for 40 days for free 
now. If you go back to December 2020, you now worked for 57 days. If 
you live in the Phoenix area, our inflation has been so high you worked 
for 57 days for free. This is what Democrat policies did to you. Tell 
me this isn't cruel.
  Do you understand what this does to the working poor? We get this 
great speechifying here; the virtue signaling is great. But somehow 
Democrats get judged on pretty words, and we get judged on what we 
  Look at what we accomplished after refining, fixing, reforming the 
tax code.
  Look what we did economically for the working poor when we fixed the 
regulatory code.
  Look at the misery. Look at the misery you have set off.
  How many presentations here, how many pieces of legislation have come 
to the floor? Those of us in the Ways and Means Committee, Republicans, 
we keep offering ideas and saying, We will do this in partnership with 
you. There are things we can do legislatively to help take on 
inflation. We could no more get one of our amendments heard around here 
because it is being controlled out of Nancy Pelosi's office.
  If you start taking a look at what inflation has done to my 
community--and I know this chart is noisy and there is a lot of 
movement on it, but you start looking at the median price of a home. 
Remember, when we talk about housing, you get knifed in two different 
directions. The price of the house goes way up, but the value of your 
savings that you have been saving up to buy that house goes down, so 
you get it on both sides of the seesaw.
  You wonder why housing insecurity is just skyrocketing in this 
country. Once again, great speeches. Maybe we will throw a bunch more 
government money at it, but those are their policies that have made 
people's lives miserable.
  This chart, you see that line that just collapses? That is the value 
of your hourly earnings. You may be being paid more. Great. Hey, I got 
a 5 percent pay raise. But in the Phoenix area, CPI-U went up, what, 
13.1? Traditional CPI went up 12.1. Great, you got a 5 percent pay 
raise. Where are the other 7 points? You functionally are 7 percent 
poorer every day.
  These are more than just charts. These are people. These are people 
just trying to find a way to air-condition their house, pay for the gas 
to get to work, to feed the family.
  I understand I often come behind this microphone and hold my boards 
up and sound like an accountant on steroids. But these are people, and 
your country is poorer, substantially poorer today. All the progress we 
made after the 2017 reforms on the tax code, which created the miracle 
of economic growth and closing income inequality. The poor got less 
poor. They succeeded in stripping it all away. It is all gone. The 
thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of increased 
purchasing power for the working middle class, it is all gone.
  The left's policies are basically arsonists to this country's 
prosperity. And yet the brilliant policies of what they did a year ago 
when they pushed out another $1.9 trillion and required no work, asked 
for no work, asked for no job training. They just gave away money. And 
now we can't figure out why we can't get the population back into the 
labor force.
  How do you think we are going to get productivity back?
  How do you think we are ever going to get inflation back under 
  If inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods and services, 
guess what? You can do two things: you can have the Federal Reserve 
jack up interest rates and crash the economy, and that seems to be the 
Democrat playbook, just put people out of work, let's just push up 
  Or we could get together in this place and find ways to help people, 
make our society, make business more productive. Help people have an 
incentive to take some of that cash and instead of going to buy a new 
television, put it aside for their future retirement. There are things 
we could do.
  The policies that would get our brothers and sisters back in the 
labor force are absolutely key.
  Do you think as Republicans we could ever get a Democrat to let us 
have a simple amendment, even though some of the ideas were ones we 
agreed upon a year ago?
  It was a Republican-Democrat idea, but, today, oh God, we can't let 
the Republicans actually have something that might be good for society 
and actually may help knock down inflation because it encourages people 
back into the labor force, and therefore we could pump up productivity 
and therefore we have more goods and services to chew up the massive 
currency that the Democrats handed out from this place.
  When I talk about the misery, it is not a snapshot, if I get one more 
idiot--and I am sorry, that is mean, and I probably broke decorum 
there. But if I get one more person who didn't show up at their basic 
economics class come behind these microphones and say, Well, it is 
transitory. No, it is not.

                              {time}  1615

  You have got to understand what is going on right now is these 
inflation numbers are becoming structural, meaning this misery is built 
into the next decade of your life.
  When you see a chart like this, you start to understand the CPI and 
then the medical expenses. So you may be over here and then you come 
along, hit 2022, and you start to understand: How

[[Page H6677]]

are you going to afford your healthcare in the future?
  Is the Democrats' goal: We will just subsidize it more?
  I am going to show you a slide that the Democrats' approach is 
saying: Let's just give away more money. We will cover up our sins by 
giving away more money.
  It turns out, we have now some great studies that say: As they pile 
up the debt, it also makes your life miserable and slows down your 
economic growth and slows down prosperity in society.
  This is one we just came across, and it is a GAO study. You have got 
to understand what the left's policies are doing.
  We need to create a whole new misery index. Forty years ago when 
Ronald Reagan was running against Jimmy Carter and they had high 
inflation and high unemployment, he created this misery index. It was 
just a way for people to understand the brutality the left's policies 
were doing to people's lives. Maybe we need to create new one.
  Because this is a really weird cycle. We have high employment. We 
have a demographic bubble that goes against us. We are getting old very 
fast as a society. We have incentivized, we have financed people not to 
participate in the labor force, and we have handed out lots of free 
money that had no attachment to labor. Then you start to find out that 
GAO's own study basically was looking at homelessness.
  Just a couple of weeks ago, we had a number of the Democrats that 
were giving beautiful speeches about how much they care about 
homelessness. I have ZIP Codes in my community where homelessness has 
doubled in the last year. There are some real problems in areas of 
  What happens if I come to you and say, a $100 increase in median 
rents was associated with a 9 percent increase in the estimated 
homelessness rate?
  So what they are basically saying--and this is a GAO study--as rents 
go up, particularly in those sort of ``C apartments,'' or those basic 
living places--as those rents go up, for every $100, their study was 
finding another 9 percent increase in people displaced from housing.
  Once again, the Democrats' solution will be, well, let's subsidize 
them, let's give out some more money, let's not do the things necessary 
to flatten out so we have economic stability in our society.
  The homelessness, let alone what is going on on the border in my 
State and the fentanyl in my neighborhoods, also turns out our instinct 
was right--we found the study--that the inflation the left has set off 
is now making people displaced from their housing. They are living in 
alleys in my neighborhoods.
  You start to look at the other misery index that they have brought to 
my community, the fentanyl. You have got to understand the amount of 
fentanyl that is pouring across my border. I have already done 
presentations on this. It is partially anecdotal because I don't think 
there is actually a public exchange. But when I have Phoenix police 
sergeants telling me that it is down to like $12 to get high for the 
day on fentanyl where a year ago it was over $100, does that tell you 
there is something really wrong on the border?
  Madam Speaker, may I inquire how much time is remaining.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Stansbury). The gentleman has 6\1/2\ 
minutes remaining.
  Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Madam Speaker, then you start to understand the other 
policies we are going to pay for, for decades.
  Don't laugh. I have a little girl who is about to turn 7. Out of 
nowhere, my wife and I now have a little boy that is functionally 18 
days old, one of the greatest gifts God has ever given us.
  But I look at my little girl and I look at these other children that 
are first graders or second graders, and we are seeing some terrifying 
data on what the left's policy of locking down schools and--``you are 
going to do it through a computer screen''--are we prepared for the 
data we are already seeing on what is happening on standardized math 
scores around the country?
  You do realize--this is, once again, like the inflation--it is a 
cascade effect that we will live with through the next decade, unless 
we sort of step in and fix this. This is a derivative of Democrat 
policies, when you start to see standardized math test scores suffering 
all across the country, particularly in those States and communities 
that engaged in the almost excessive lockdowns for theater. It was 
virtue signaling. The math never said it.
  This is a fascinating one. Growing debt would result in a per-person 
income being lowered, functionally $9,000 lower, or a 10 percent 
reduction. What this study is trying to do is trying to understand--as 
the left basically says: Our solution is we are going to send someone 
money. What does it functionally do to future prosperity when you start 
to actually see what this does in future purchasing power for your 
  Now, it is a complicated formula. Part of it basically says you don't 
have as much capital revolving in the economy, so you don't have much 
investment in productivity, so the society doesn't get healthier, 
wealthier, better, or faster, because all of that cash is functionally 
financing U.S. sovereign debt. But are you prepared? Because this is 
what the left has brought you. As the debt skyrockets, you get to live 
about 10 percent poorer.
  Now, stack that on the fact that you have lost a couple months of 
your labor. Tell me I am not wrong to be angry about the cruelty and 
the complete avoidance of the misery this place is creating across the 
  And then you start to look at where our future is. Remember, 
eventually the math wins. The pretty words here may get you reelected, 
but the math will always win.

  This is where we are at. And you start to look at what is going on. 
The interest--because the piling up of debt, Social Security, Medicare, 
interest is now functionally crossing, in the next few years, across 
all defense spending and all Medicaid spending.
  You understand, this is Social Security, this is Medicare, this is 
interest. A number of my friends on the left say: ``Well, if we cut 
defense.'' The green line is defense.
  I know you may care more about this coming election, but we have got 
to stop the misery.
  Just minutes ago, the Atlanta Fed's GDP calculator just announced 
that the second quarter looks like it wasn't 1.2 percent negative; it 
is 1\1/2\ percent negative. Remember your high school economic class? 
Even though it is not technically correct, congratulations, you brought 
us 2 months of negative GDP.
  Please, to the majority, stop hurting people. Let some of us--I will 
give you the ideas. Put your own name on them.
  We are better than this. It can't be all about the next election. If 
we don't stop this, we are about to get a decade of misery because of 
crappy decisions made in the last 16 months. That is just not fair.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.