How to address inflation and put money back in Americans pockets

In restaurants, small businesses, and churches in and around Cleveland, I am often approached by constituents who say they are struggling to keep up with higher prices at the pump and at the supermarket. The latest data on inflation confirms what they are feeling: rising prices made worse by the pandemic and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Food and fuel prices are straining families’ budgets and depriving them of the gains of our strong economic recovery. Last year was the single greatest year of job creation in our nation’s history, and the unemployment rate is currently at 3.6 percent—a pandemic low. More than five million new small businesses were createdincluding 155,000 new business applications in Ohio alone.

In 2021, we experienced the fastest rate of economic growth in four decades. And in the last three months of the year, the economy grew at a 14.3 percent annual pace. Some of that was due to prices going up, but even accounting for inflation, the growth rate was well above average. Thanks to this robust growth, workers are securing better jobs with higher pay. wages have risen more than 4 percent since President Biden took office.

Yet larger bills are robbing American families of the full benefits they might otherwise receive from this record growth. One of the largest contributors to inflation is prices at the pump, exacerbated by oil and gasoline disruptions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In fact, energy price hikes accounted for around 70 percent of the March increase in inflation.

Thanks to the leadership of President Biden, the administration has taken bold actions to lessen pain at the pump. This includes releasing up to one million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next six months. And last week, the Biden administration lifted the summer ban on E15 to further ease fuel costs.

Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions have also been eating into families’ pocketbooks. Slowly but surely, we have started to address these disruptions. Automobiles have returned to dealers’ lots and goods are getting back on shelves. But there is more we can do to make products here in America and better deliver them to consumers nationwide.

By repairing our roads, bridges, ports, and railways, the bipartisan infrastructure law will help to strengthen our supply chains and lay a foundation for the next decade of growth. Meanwhile, Congress is finalizing the COMPETES Act, which will capitalize on this investment in our infrastructure. The bill’s investments in research, innovation, and manufacturing will ensure the technologies of the future are made right here in America.

But beyond creating more goods in America and getting them to market faster, we can and must lower costs for families. That is why I am fighting tooth and nail with my colleagues to cut prescription drug, health care, child care, and education costs for families.

Last month, the House passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act, a bill that would cap cost-sharing for Insulin at no more than $35 per month. Currently, Americans pay more than 10 times for insulin when compared to other high-income countries. It is long past time we ensure affordable access to this life-saving medication for the more than 37 million people in the United States who live with diabetes.

There are yet more ways to put money back in people’s pockets. After more than a decade of delay, it is time to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. I also continue to work with my colleagues to find a path forward for an extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provided the largest tax cut in a generation for families with children, including more than 70,000 families in my district.

Cutting costs for families, combatting Putin’s price hike, and creating more goods in America—that is how we get prices under control and put money back in Ohioans’ pockets.

US Rep. Shontel M. Brown, of Warrensville Heights, a Democrat, represents the 11th District of Ohio in Congress.


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