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Scalise Questions Powell on Soaring Inflation Under Biden

WASHINGTON—House Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise (R-La.)’s opening statement at today’s Select Subcommittee’s hearing about the Federal Reserve’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic asks Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to address the alarming rising inflation under the Biden Administration. Whip Scalise notes that the Consumer Price Index is at its highest level since 2008. Additionally, Whip Scalise questions why Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats refuse to hold a single hearing to investigate the coronavirus’ origin.

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Mr. Chairman, thank you. I welcome Federal Reserve Chairman Powell and look forward to an interesting and important discussion about the state of our economy. But I want to begin by making sure the American people, the media, and our colleagues know that the House Democrat majority still refuses to hold a hearing on the origins of COVID. If this virus leaked from the Wuhan lab – and a growing mountain of evidence indicates that this is a real possibility – everyone in this country and around the world who has been touched by this evil virus deserves to know what happened and how it happened. Given the Chinese Communist Party’s documented coverup and lies, every Member of the subcommittee should agree. This is exponentially worse than Chernobyl. Yet NOT A SINGLE HEARING by this Democrat majority.  

“209 Republicans wrote Speaker Pelosi asking that the committees of jurisdiction simply hold hearings. I have asked repeatedly that this Select Subcommittee hold a hearing on this important topic.  “Your response has been that the Science Committee is looking into it. Mr. Chairman, every Republican Member of the Science Committee signed the letter to Speaker Pelosi. Republican Members of the Science Committee aren’t satisfied. The Science Committee hasn’t scheduled a hearing. Not a single committee has – indicating clearly that Speaker Pelosi has sent word that the House will not investigate the origins of COVID.  

“We are amid a long global competition with China. Much of the world must decide whose values to espouse and with whom to align. The House of Representatives should not be covering up for China’s lies and potential crimes. We should be coming together on a bipartisan basis to search for those answers and shine the light of transparency on the origin of this virus to the world on a bipartisan basis. I urge you to reconsider and schedule a hearing on the origins of COVID-19 with no further delay.  

“Now, let’s get back to the focus of today’s hearing – the economic crisis. Chairman Powell, welcome back to the subcommittee. We appreciate your openness and accessibility in these challenging times. Inflation has been defined as too much money chasing too few goods. It also happens to be a nearly exact description of the Biden economic plan. 

“Last year, Congress worked together on a bipartisan basis to provide relief from the government-imposed lockdowns. America did not know much about this novel virus, and we did not have a vaccine. Some in Congress used this crisis to spend trillions on things that had little or nothing to do with COVID. We still have hundreds of billions of funds from the many relief packages left unspent. We also learned that the revenue shortfalls some predicted state and local governments would face were dramatically inaccurate. Congress provided hundreds of billions in aid to states that are running billions in surpluses.  

“Republicans have a clear set of policies for the economy. Since we passed the initial CARES Act last year, Republicans at the national and state level have called for:

  • ​Schools to be re-opened for in-person learning
  • An end to enhanced unemployment and other policies that   discourage people from going back to work, 
  • Full – from the beginning – support for Operation Warp Speed – because the vaccine is the only way out of the pandemic
  • Safe reopening of the economy
  • ​Repurposing unused COVID funds for real infrastructure
  • No job-killing tax increases

“We are focused on growing our economy and increasing supply – supply of labor, expanding investment, bringing jobs back to America, strengthening supply chains, and returning to the American people a country that is open and free. 25 Republican governors have moved to end the enhanced unemployment insurance program that is clearly causing labor shortages. 

“The Biden Inflation Agenda of too much money chasing too few goods is causing major harm to hard-working families. A $1.9 trillion COVID bill that had almost nothing to do with COVID – but air-dropped more cash into the economy – while restricting supply. Canceling the keystone pipeline. Siding with teacher union bosses to keeping schools closed, hurting millions of students. Extending the enhanced unemployment insurance and paying people more to stay home then work. And President Biden wants to give away our intellectual property for the vaccine. 

“On top of that, he has proposed a $3.5 trillion tax hike that will crush American workers, small businesses, and family farms. He wants a higher tax rate than communist China. Add to that, he wants another $4 trillion of spending – too much money chasing too few goods. 

“Welcome to the Biden inflation. The Washington Post lead story yesterday said, ‘The U.S. economy is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic … markedly transformed, as businesses and consumers struggle to adapt to a new landscape with higher prices, fewer workers, new innovations and a range of inconveniences … What Americans are encountering, though, is almost unrecognizable from just 16 months ago. Prices are up. Housing is scarce. It takes months longer than normal to get furniture, appliances, and numerous parts delivered. And there is a great dislocation between millions of unemployed workers and millions of vacant jobs.’ The Washington Post is hardly a conservative news outlet.  

“Larry Summers – top economic advisor to both President Clinton and President Obama – has been warning since February that Biden’s agenda is inflationary. “The Consumer Price Index is up the most since 2008. The 6.2 percent in the producer price index is the highest on record.

  • ​Milk up 5 percent
  • ​Bacon up 13 percent
  • ​Use cars up 30 percent
  • ​Public Transportation up 16 percent

“This list goes on – Housing prices are soaring, and economists are warning of the rental crisis. The cost of building new homes has made it prohibitive for home builders – restricting supply while flooding the economy with cash. Inflation is outpacing wage gains in the past few months. In the first five months of the Biden presidency, 500,000 fewer jobs were created than in the last 5 months of the Trump Administration – and the Biden administration has had at least two approved vaccines the entire time.  “Chairman Powell – the Biden policies have put you in a tough spot. I have confidence Chairman Powell that the Fed has tools to deal with inflation. But those tools are harsh. Raising interest rates and constricting the money supply – it works, but as we saw with Paul Volker – it causes tremendous pain.  

“The job of taming inflation belongs to Congress and the administration. Take the $4 trillion of spending proposals off the table. Send a message to the markets that we will do a bipartisan infrastructure package that is paid for with leftover COVID relief money – there’s plenty of it. Let’s agree to end the bonus unemployment insurance and stop this tax hike that will ship jobs overseas. I yield back.”

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Author: Jessica Collins

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