"Inflation is no accident. Pelosi’s socialist-style spending plan helped cause it. Stephanie Murphy helped pass it," the announcer in a TV spot by the Congressional Leadership Fund charges. "Economists say the worst is yet to come. Stephanie Murphy pricing you out."
Murphy, a three-term lawmaker who represents Florida’s 7th Congressional District, is one of roughly 50 House Democrats that reelection arm of the House GOP sees as potentially vulnerable in the 2022 midterm elections, when Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to win back the chamber’s majority that they lost in the 2018 midterms.
The commercial is the latest example of a push by Republicans to target congressional Democrats over inflation, which public opinion polling indicates is increasingly becoming a pressing issue for many Americans.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) went up last week with its second round of digital ads this summer taking aim at Democrats over the issue. The narrator in the spots claims that "Democrats’ harmful economic policies are making everyday goods cost more" before urging viewers to call the Democratic member of Congress being targeted in the ads to tell them, "We can’t afford this."
Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, chair of the Senate GOP’s reelection committee, argued earlier this summer that Americans "are scared to death over what’s happening to inflation" and charged that "the Biden agenda and the Democrats’ agenda is not popular." Senate Republicans need a net gain of just one seat next year to regain the majority they lost in the 2020 election cycle.
And Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News that concerns over inflation are "certainly something we’re hearing on doors that we’re knocking in current races, and it’s an issue that we’re seeing resonate in our polling, that voters really correlate this higher inflation to Democrats."
Congressional Democrats dispute the charge that they’re responsible for the rising prices and argue that their GOP counterparts are playing politics.
"House Republicans are making a desperate attempt to score political points after abandoning the American people by voting ‘NO’ on the American Rescue Plan," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesperson Chris Taylor told Fox News last week.
And after the release of last week’s robust employment report from the Labor Department – the biggest monthly gain in jobs in a year as the economy rebounds after being severely deflated by the coronavirus pandemic – Democratic National Committee chair Jamie Harrison touted that the "jobs report is proof that President Biden’s economic plan is working. Thanks to President Biden and Democrats, Americans are getting hired at record rates, paychecks are going up, and the economy is shattering expectations."
But progressive Democratic strategist Michael Ceraso told Fox News that "Republicans are running a brilliant playbook, period. Low-middle-class workers, especially from Black and Brown communities, feel the economic burden tenfold when the value of their dollar shrinks. These folks won’t turn out for Democrats if they lack an economic incentive or if Trump is missing from the ticket."
"Flooding their pockets with child care tax credits and monthly payments is great but doesn’t recoup the financial losses these communities have experience from the pandemic and inflation," Ceraso, a veteran of the 2016 Bernie Sanders and 2020 Pete Buttigieg presidential campaigns, argued. But he added that Democrats can counteract the GOP efforts with quality candidate recruitment efforts.
More than eight in 10 Americans questioned in June in a Fox News national poll said they were very or extremely concerned about inflation. And roughly seven in 10 said that recent rises in gas and food prices were causing a hardship for their families.
Many economists peg the collapse in fuel prices last year to a lack of demand amid the worldwide economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, the worst pandemic to afflict the globe in a century. And they point to increased demand as the COVID crisis recedes for fueling the current rise in prices across the country.
"The reality is, you can’t flip the global economic light back on and not expect this to happen," President Biden said last month. "As demand returns, there’s going to be global supply chain challenges."
And the president’s pushing back against GOP attacks, emphasizing in a White House speech on the economy that his spending plans will ease inflation concerns.
But the rise in inflation seems to be taking a bit of a political bite out of Biden. The president’s overall approval rating approval stands at 50%, edging down from the low to mid 50s over the past couple of months, in an average of the latest surveys. Biden’s approval rating on handling the economy stood underwater at 43%-48% approval/disapproval in a Quinnipiac University national poll released Wednesday. That’s down from 48%-43% in Quinnipiac’s May survey.
Such numbers matter, as a president’s approval ratings are a key indicator heading into midterm elections.
But as long as prices keep rising, expect the GOP to spotlight the issue of inflation.
NRCC chair Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, in a statement to Fox News last week, vowed that the House reelection arm is "going to ensure voters know that Democrats are responsible for the higher costs they are paying for just about everything."