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Kentucky lawmakers focus on inflation as the President is set to deliver the State of the Union address

Some Kentucky lawmakers express worry over the direction the economy is heading as others claim the economy is showing signs of progress in the midst of the pandemic
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:53 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Kentucky lawmakers expect the economy and the pandemic to play a large role in the speech as President Joe Biden prepares to deliver his first State of the Union address.

Kentucky lawmakers remain split on where they believe the direction of the economy is headed. Republicans levy criticism while Democrats see hope on the horizon.

“I don’t think we’re in an economic crisis. We do have a problem with inflation that unfortunately always impacts lower and moderate income citizens the most,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). “A lot of what we’re seeing now is a function of the pandemic and our response to it and some of the effects of the pandemic on certain segments of the economy. But, you know, I think there’s there’s little doubt that that’s some of the inflation that we’re seeing is because of excess demand, because we did pump a lot of money into the economy. We felt that was justified at the time. And we’ll see as this year goes by, whether as those injections of money tend to end, whether inflation will moderate, which I suspect it will. But right now, it’s it’s a serious problem.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blames excessive government spending for deepening the inflation problem. He called inflation his ‘biggest concern’ as he expressed concerns over rising prices at the grocery store and the gas pump. He too claimed inflation is impacting people who are least able to afford it.

“People need to know inflation is because the government spent money they didn’t have. The Federal Reserve printed up new money to replace it. And they’re losing the value of the existing dollars. And so inflation is because we wanted something, you know, for nothing. And people were passed out checks and everybody said, Wow, it’s great to get a 14 hundred dollar check until they figured out they’re paying for it through inflation. So the only way to stop this is we have to begin living within our means. We can’t have trillion dollar deficits and the wild spending schemes that the Democrats are proposing will only make the inflation worse.”

A January report from the U.S. Department of Labor found the annual rate of inflation rose to 7.5%. That’s a 40-year high. The same January report found promising news on the job front as employers added 467,000 jobs that month.

The agency also reports that employers have raised wages at the fastest rate in 15 years, but that inflation has trimmed real hourly earnings by 1.7%.

In a recent speech on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said “the consequences for working families have been particularly harsh. Essential goods have played an outsized role in driving up prices overall.”

McConnell’s viewpoint is shared by Rep. James Comer (R-KY). He told the Washington News Bureau, “I think sadly the state of the union is pretty bad right now. We’ve got crisis after crisis and I blame the Biden administration for all of these crises. We have a crisis of inflation, and it’s because the Democrats and President Biden are printing money and spending too much money.”

Comer expressed his concerns that the country faces additional problems that include an energy crisis, border crisis, and crime crisis.

Democrat Yarmuth said the state of the union is ‘precarious,’ adding his concerns are based in the future of the democratic system itself.

“I would say it is precarious. And, I say that primarily because of my concerns over our democratic system, without which very few of the problems that we face can be dealt with. So, if you’re talking about inflation or crime or what we teach in our schools, virtually anything that’s out there. If the if either the federal government or state governments are going to have any impact on those problems, we have to make sure that democracy functions.And right now it’s not,” he said.

Yarmuth said, in addition to the economy, he believes Kentucky’s education system is a ‘big priority.’ He is also in favor of legalizing marijuana.

“I think what we’re doing by not legalizing marijuana is we’re losing ground other states. We’re giving them an opportunity to generate resources that we badly need. And. I’m proud of the Democratic Party of Kentucky, which has taken a very strong stand in favor of legalization, because right now we’re one of very few states that doesn’t have legalized medical marijuana, and we’re part of a dwindling list of states that aren’t legalizing recreational marijuana in some in some form, even though an overwhelming majority of Kentucky residents want to see a legalized,” he said.

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