by U. S. Senator Joni Ernst
In visits to over 20 counties the past few weeks on my 99 County Tour, I was asked by Iowans across the state about a wide range of issues—from the war in Ukraine and our national security, to efforts to address the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, to the flow of drugs across our Southern border. However, at almost every stop on my 99 County Tour, I heard about one issue more than any other: record-high inflation and the rising prices that are crippling our small businesses, farmers, and hardworking families.
The most recent Consumer Price Index showed that prices increased 8.5 percent over the last 12 months, making it the largest year-over-year increase in the last 40 years. At the same time, the Producer Price Index increased by 11.2 percent, indicating that most small businesses are experiencing increasingly diminished margins in real terms as the inflationary crisis continues. The effects are glaring. In the first three months of this year, the entire U.S. economy shrank by 1.4 percent, the worst quarter in two years.
Iowa families are spending more and getting less. Our small businesses are struggling to maintain their payrolls and grow their businesses. Our farmers and agriculture community have seen their input prices skyrocket and have been forced to charge more for their products.
Unfortunately, it seems like the Biden administration and Washington Democrats couldn’t care less. Their reckless tax-and-spend agenda has only fanned the flames of rising prices, and they’ve refused to take steps to alleviate the pressure on consumers—like addressing the supply chain crisis and unleashing domestic energy production to bring down energy costs.
One of the reasons I do my 99 County Tour every year is because it allows me to hear directly from Iowans across the state and to bring their voices to Washington. This week, that’s exactly what I did. I highlighted the stories of Iowa small business owners who have been crushed by record inflation levels and supply chain challenges. As a senior member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I also questioned the head Biden official at the Small Business Administration about how she and the administration plan to address it. I described the “hidden value added tax” and other major challenges that so many of our employers are facing. Following the hearing, I asked for detailed, written responses from the Biden administration on their plans to support small businesses, particularly in our rural areas, where inflation is having a disproportionate impact.
Iowans work hard, provide for their families, and live within their means. Washington politicians who are pushing the reckless government spending that has helped to drive up costs play by different rules. It’s past time these costal elites, who are adding trillions to our debt, are held accountable. Let’s pass my PRICE Act and give Iowans and all Americans a clear view of who in Washington is causing them to spend more at the grocery store, at the pump, and on their heating bills. It’s the least Washington can do.