Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) had harsh words for President Joe Biden and his administration in an interview with NTD’s Capitol Report program on Tuesday, attacking the president for promoting policies that would exacerbate the inflation nightmare afflicting the U.S. economy.
When asked about rising inflation, Kustoff was outspoken about the challenges inflation has caused for middle and working-class people, and alleged that President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposals would only make the problem worse.
“If Build Back Better was passed, or any part of it … it would continue to drive inflation, at really, really high numbers,” said Representative Kustoff.
“Unfortunately, this is an issue that Biden and Pelosi and Schumer have pushed us through, in large part due to big record government spending … We’ve got a curve back spending, and so that’s one thing we can do on the congressional side.”
The Tennessee representative also identified the Federal Reserve as responsible for ameliorating the inflation problem, while acknowledging the likely consequences of rate hikes.
“I think the Federal Reserve is gonna have to really, really look at the rate increases, the amount of the rate increases, and the frequency of the rate increases … if you remember, Jen Psaki got on TV and said, ‘inflation is a high-class problem,’ or however she characterized it. It’s a problem for everybody. And there’s not a short-term solution. And unfortunately, we’re gonna have some hard knocks in America to do try to beat down inflation.”
Build Back Better, the greater part of which was rejected by the Senate last December, was intended to be Biden’s signature legislative achievement, with ambitious proposals to address infrastructure, poverty, and climate change. However, the proposal was criticized for its high price tag: The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the proposal would increase the federal deficit by $365 billion, but other analysts argued that the real cost would be even higher, as the Congressional Budget Office estimate assumes that many of the legislation’s provisions would be allowed to expire after as little as a single year.
Critics have argued that such a level of government spending would certainly contribute to inflation, which has reached its highest point in forty years at 7.5 percent last January, according to the most recent consumer price index (pdf) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Kustoff also criticized the Biden administration for undermining America’s energy independence, specifically highlighting how the incumbent administration’s energy policy has resulted in higher gas prices for his constituents.
“During the Trump years, for the first time in a long time, our nation was energy independent. We were actually producing more oil and gas in this nation that we were importing, we were exporting more than we’re importing. That was the first time in a long, long, long time; we’re now energy-dependent again. We’re importing more energy from foreign nations than we did a year ago,” the congressman continued.
“Because of the policies that President Biden has implemented to discourage oil production here in the United States, we’re going to be more dependent with these geopolitical issues, we’re going to continue to see higher and higher energy prices, at least in the short term.”
The concerns Kustoff speaks about are consistent with those of many Americans, according to public opinion data collected in recent months. A recent poll by ABC News and Ipsos found that 75 percent of respondents gave a net negative assessment of the economy, with only 42 percent stating approval of Biden’s economic performance. If inflation continues at its current rate or higher, these numbers are unlikely to improve, and the president will continue to face tough questions from his constituents and sharp criticism from Republican congressmen such as Kustoff.