Republican reaction came quickly to Friday morning’s news that last month consumer prices surged at their fastest pace in nearly four decades.
"Bidenflation: Almost 40 YEAR high," read the headline from an email blasted out by the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) rapid response director.
The attack from the RNC came minutes after the Labor Department announced that the consumer price index rose 6.8% in November from a year ago, marking the fastest increase since June 1982. The report came as Americans paid more for practically everything from groceries to gasoline, cementing soaring inflation as a key component of the economic recovery following last year’s massive global economic shutdown due to the coronavirus, the worst pandemic to sweep the globe in a century.
Republicans are using the latest consumer prices news as more ammunition as they try to scuttle a nearly $2 trillion social infrastructure and climate change combating spending package the White House and Democrats in Congress are trying to pass.
And ahead of 2022 midterm elections, when the GOP aims to win back majorities in the House and Senate and increase their already formidable control of governorships and state legislatures across the country, Republicans see inflation as a powerful issue as they blame the spending bills already passed by President Biden and congressional Democrats for sparking the price hikes.
"Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Build Back Broke agenda created historically high inflation, making Americans pay more for nearly everything this holiday season," RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel charged.
"With skyrocketing prices at a 39-year high, a supply chain crisis, trillions in reckless spending and tax hikes on families, Biden has lost the trust and confidence of the American people to get the economy working for them. Americans can thank Biden and the Democrats for the most expensive holiday season on record," McDaniel argued.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) claimed that "Democrats are causing prices on everyday goods, like gas and groceries, to skyrocket, and it’s hitting American families where it hurts…It’s a real-world problem for hard-working American families and now it’s a political problem for Democrats, whose entire agenda is built on inflation-inducing government spending."
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the reelection arm of the House GOP, argued that "prices keep rising and all Democrats want to do is spend trillions more in taxpayer money. Democrats created the inflation crisis crushing American families and are too incompetent to fix it."
And an email blast from the Republican Governors Association was headlined "Inflation Rises Again: Joe Biden and Democrat Governors Are To Blame."
The United States is hardly alone in dealing with soaring inflation. It’s a global problem being fed in part by the worldwide surge in energy prices due to demand as economies across the planet recovery from the COVID crisis.
"Today’s numbers reflect the pressures that economies around the world are facing as we emerge from a global pandemic — prices are rising," the president said in a statement soon after the Labor Department released the latest inflation figures.
Biden noted that "developments in the weeks after these data were collected last month show that price and cost increase are slowing, although not as quickly as we’d like."
The also president acknowledged: "We have to get prices and costs down before consumers will feel confident in that recovery. That is a top goal of my administration."
The Democratic National Committee’s rapid response director charged in an email headlined "Republicans are rooting against the economy" that the GOP continues "to do what they can to undermine it."
The GOP’s main argument is that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan – which was passed along party lines earlier this year – and the bipartisan infrastructure package are making inflation worse by flooding the economy with government spending. Democrats note that inflation was already rising even before Biden took over in the White House in January, thanks in part to the massive COVID-19 relief spending signed into law by President Trump in 2020.
But that’s in the rearview mirror now, with the 2022 midterms less than a year away.
"When you cut through all the noise and chatter, next year’s midterms will in all likelihood hinge on the state of the economy. Right now the warning signs are flashing red for President Biden and the party in change. When you control the government, you own the results," veteran Republican strategist Colin Reed told Fox News.
The House and Senate GOP reelection arms and pro-GOP outside groups have been going up for months with ads attacking Biden and the Democrats over inflation, as they target Democratic lawmakers who may be vulnerable in next year’s elections. The NRCC was one of the first committees to go up with ads.
"Burgers, buns, propane, gas. This year your Fourth of July is more expensive because Democrats’ harmful economic policies are making everyday goods cost more," the narrator in the NRCC spots that went up at the beginning of July charged.
Fast-forward six months and inflation’s grown in size as a major concern to Americans.
Nearly three-quarters of those questioned in a Fox News national poll conducted last month said higher prices at the grocery store and the gas pumps are causing financial hardship.
The economy ranked as the top issue in the survey, and less than a quarter rated the economy positively, down 10 points from the beginning of Biden’s presidency. The poll also indicated that inflation (at 45%) was the most pressing economic issue.
And polling indicates that the rise in prices is a major factor in the drop in the president's approval ratings the past five months, and in the increased support for the GOP in next year's midterms.
"Voters are feeling real pain at the pump and the store. The good news for Biden is they want the government to do something about it. The bad news is they think he isn’t," Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News survey with Republican Daron Shaw, said.