Another expensive holiday season

by Tom Cole

Last week, Americans unfortunately felt the crushing weight of inflation once again as they prepared Thanksgiving dinners for their family, friends and loved ones. Already forced to get by on tight budgets, continued inflation is causing holiday cooking and shopping to still be a stressor on households nationwide.

While the Consumer Price Index (CPI) did ease slightly from 3.7 percent in September to 3.2 percent in October, signs still point to our economy struggling to bounce back, and consumer sentiment towards the economy making a full recovery remains low. According to a recent LendingTree survey, 60 percent of respondents expected inflation to impact their Thanksgiving plans, and according to a recent AP/NORC poll, nearly two-thirds of adults say their household expenses have risen over the last year.

In addition, the decline in the CPI excluded categories such as energy and food, which remained high, rising 4 percent year-over-year in October. Overall inflation has also remained well above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, and to fight inflation, it has raised interest rates 11 times since March 2022 to a 22-year high. Now, Americans are not only paying more for goods and services, but interest rates are eating away even more from their wallets when buying necessities such as homes and vehicles.

Finally, as prices stay steadily high, consumer purchasing power also remains low. Across various industries, including construction, manufacturing and education, wages are not keeping pace with inflation. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that the average hourly earnings for all employees was $11.05 in October, which represents a 3.32 percent decline from $11.43 in January 2021. Despite the reports that wages are rising at the fastest pace in years, by that measure, U.S. workers are worse off today than two years ago.

As yet another expensive holiday season began last week and while families begin preparing to buy gifts for their own homes and loved ones, Americans certainly see that Democrats’ reckless spending has caused a severe lag in our economy’s ability to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, three years later, many Americans are still wondering what it will take for things to finally turn around. By Republicans having the majority in the House, we are able to stop large, expensive reconciliation bills that a Democratic Congress and White House have previously pushed through on top of annual appropriations bills, and we remain committed to spending taxpayer dollars more wisely by keeping government funding to core government programs and national defense, and finally, putting policies into place to allow our economy to flourish.