Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Wednesday accused Republicans of being more interested in making speeches about inflation than offering solutions, while pledging Democrats would take up a series of proposals in March to work toward lowering costs for Americans.
"Democrats remain laser-focused on lowering costs for American families," Schumer said Wednesday from the Senate floor.
"Republicans seem to have no solutions, just rhetoric. … Our Republican colleagues seem more comfortable giving speeches that go on and on about rising costs, without offering any solutions," Schumer continued. "Complaining about the problem doesn't make inflation better; proposing solutions does."
Economic numbers out last week showed inflation accelerated 7.5% in January, reaching a fresh 40-year high. Republicans have been raising alarms about rising costs for months and accused Democrats of just waking up to the reality that Americans are hurting by paying more at the gas pump, in grocery stores and on their utility bills.
Senate Republicans held a news conference Wednesday where 14 speakers said Biden's policies of more spending with the American Rescue Plan and executive actions to tamp down American energy production have accelerated inflation in the United States.
"I'm glad that the Democrats are finally coming to the conclusion that this is an issue that needs to be addressed," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, "but they missed the boat a long time ago, starting with the vote last March to increase spending by $2 trillion, which led to this inflationary crisis that we're in."
With their massive Build Back Better social spending plan effectively dead, Democrats are now pivoting to pass smaller provisions of President Biden's agenda they say will tackle economic concerns. Schumer this week held a Democratic caucus meeting with a focus on solutions to lower child care costs, gas prices, prescription drug expenses and the costs for semiconductor chips.
Democrats are also grappling with the political implications that rising economic anxiety could have on the midterm elections, coupled with Biden's low approval ratings. A Fox News poll out in January found that 85% of voters are worried about inflation, and that sentiment is bipartisan: 81% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans are concerned.
Voters don’t agree on what’s causing inflation. By 48-42%, more blame government policies than the pandemic. Democrats (66%) point to the pandemic, while Republicans (73%) cite federal policies.
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Jaime Harrison Wednesday also held a conference call with reporters that sought to cast Republicans as the obstacle to Democrats' efforts to lower costs.
"It's the Democratic Party that is the only party with an actual plan to lower costs for American families. And yet again, our Republican colleagues are doing nothing but trying to stand in the way," Harrison said.
"…I wish I could tell you that they gave a damn, but they don't. But they do seem to only be interested in political games. They seem to have made the cynical calculation that the American people succeeding is bad politics. I've never seen a party that has talked down America's success more than today's Republican Party."
Fox News' Dana Blanton contributed to this report.