New Hampshire Democrats already facing an energized GOP-leaning electorate next year suffered a tough, one-two fiscal punch Friday from new reports on inflation and federal spending.
Friday morning the Labor Department reported the consumer-price index jumped to its highest rate in 39 years, rising to 6.8 percent in November. It’s the sixth consecutive month inflation was higher than 5 percent. This is a blow to Democrats like Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas who back trillions in new federal spending and likely face serious challenges in the 2022 midterms.
Polls show most Americans believe federal spending is making inflation worse.
Hours later, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better spending plan found the bill would add $2.8 trillion more to the national debt than originally projected. Despite claims by Rep. Annie Kuster that the CBO found the BBB spending plan is “fully paid for,” the agency has always said the proposal will add between $160 billion and $367 billion to the deficit.
The new $2.8 trillion figure is more realistic, economists say, because it assumes expensive spending programs like the Child Tax Credit will continue for the entire 10 years of the plan. The not-quite “fully paid for” plan is based on the dubious assumption the CTC will end after just one year.
And, as Ben Casselman of The New York Times reported, “Inflation is wiping out wage gains. Real average hourly earnings fell in November on both a month-to-month and year-to-year basis.”
All four members of New Hampshire’s federal delegation back the Biden spending plan — Kuster and Pappas have already voted for about $7 trillion in new spending this year alone. And all four declined to comment on the new inflation numbers when contacted by NHJournal.
Republicans, unsurprisingly, were more willing to respond.
“With a skyrocketing energy crisis, supply chain issues, and rampant inflation at record highs, Democrats in Washington must understand that their bad policy decisions and unchecked spending are hurting average American families,” said Gov. Chris Sununu.
“Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Build Back Broke agenda created historically high inflation, making Americans pay more for nearly everything this holiday season,” Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “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 added.
Americans aren’t waiting until Christmas to assign blame. A CNBC poll also released Friday found Biden’s approval rating is down to 41 percent approve/50 percent disapprove. On handling the economy, Biden is down to a dismal 37 percent approve while 56 percent disapprove.
More problematic for Granite State Democrats is the “generic ballot” result. Asked if they would prefer a Democrat or Republican in Congress, Americans chose Republican by a +10 margin.
“Inflation is out of control, Congress is making it worse, and the only people who haven’t figured that out work in the White House,” National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman T.W. Arrighi told NHJournal. “Democrats are causing prices on everyday goods, like gas and groceries, to skyrocket, and it’s hitting American families where it hurts. It’s not the media’s fault, it’s not transitory and it’s not a high-class problem. 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.”
Every Democrat in the House of Representatives except Maine’s Jared Golden voted for the Build Back Better bill last month, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) needs even more unity to get it through the U.S. Senate. He wrote a letter to members like Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen earlier this week telling them to expect long nights as he pushes to get the Biden spending bill passed by Christmas.
Andrew Cline of the free-market Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy is confused by the Democrats’ approach.
“Dave Chappelle said Twitter isn’t a real place, and I’m starting to suspect that Congress isn’t either,” Cline said. “It seems entirely disconnected from reality. The COVID recession ended in April 2020. It lasted only two months. But Congress told us that Washington needed to spend $6 trillion to rescue the economy, most of that after the recession ended. Now, with inflation rocketing to its highest rate since Pete Buttigieg was born, Congress says the only option is to add trillions more dollars worth of demand into a supply-crunched economy.
“I really hope we wake up back in the real world soon,” Cline added.