FLORENCE, S.C. – Congressman Tom Rice says he blames Joe Biden and the Democrats for the inflation currently plaguing the country.
Rice, a Republican representing most of the Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions of South Carolina, spoke about inflation as he provided a legislative update Tuesday morning at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.
Inflation is an increase in the price of goods or services over time due to a decline in the purchasing power of money. It takes more dollars to buy the same amount of goods.
“President Biden said I’m not going to have a tax on anybody who makes less than $400,000,” Rice said. “Well. guess what? Gas is up 61%. That’s a tax. Whether or not it goes to the government coffers, that’s a tax... Food is up over 25%. That’s a tax.”
Rice said the inflation is a result of the successive COVID-19 relief packages from the federal government and new energy policies implemented by the Biden administration.
He said he supported the first package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security [CARES] Act because it was necessary to prevent the economy from going into a depression because of the closing of so many businesses in March 2020.
The act was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March 2020. It included the Paycheck Protection Program loans, $1,200 stimulus checks, expanded unemployment relief and funds for state and local governments.
The act was extended by Congress in December. This provided additional loans and $600 stimulus checks.
Rice said this bill was necessary because it modified the Paycheck Protection Program to provide additional requirements on the loans.
The third act, the American Rescue Plan, happened after Biden took office.
The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package geared toward helping the country continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the government shutdowns initiated to slow the spread of the virus. It was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
Rice said the American Rescue Plan was unneeded because it essentially paid people not to work.
“That is the primary driver of the inflation we see today,” Rice said. “That and the energy policy we put in place.”
Rice said it was entirely foreseeable that gas prices would rise and that thousands of Americans would be put out of work with the policies implemented by the Biden administration.
Rice said that two of Biden’s early executive orders halted new oil and gas exploration leases on federal land and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Biden administration issued a moratorium on leases on federal land in January but that ban was struck down by a Louisiana district court. The administration has since issued a report recommending an increase in prices to lease the land.
The Keystone Pipeline is a series of oil pipelines running from the western Canadian oil sands to refineries in Illinois and Texas. The fourth pipeline, called the Keystone XL, has been a controversial topic for several years. Proponents of the pipeline tout additional American jobs – one estimate is up to 11,000 temporary jobs – and increased energy security. Opponents have cited several reasons, including environmental problems and the potential desecration of Native American holy sites.
Rice also criticized the Biden administration for reducing sanctions on Russia, an action that allowed a Russian company to complete a second pipeline delivering natural gas from Russia directly to Germany.
“And then when gas prices start rising, he goes to OPEC and begs them to start producing more energy instead of American energy,” Rice said.
OPEC is a group of 13 countries that controls 44% global oil production of the and 81.5% of the world’s oil reserves. A larger group of countries known as OPEC+ includes Russia. The countries included in the larger group cut production during the early stages of the pandemic and are slowly increasing production to pre-pandemic levels.
Biden has repeatedly called for the oil-producing countries included in the OPEC+ to produce more oil sooner to combat higher prices.
Thus far, OPEC+ has resisted these calls.
Biden announced last week that he would be releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to combat higher fuel prices.