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The Villages
Friday, February 23, 2024

Floridians can’t keep up with rising prices

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott

Inflation now costs Florida families $1,069 a month more than when President Joe Biden took office, according to the congressional Joint Economic Committee Republicans’ state inflation tracker. It has erased $11,400 in buying power. America’s massive debt and reckless spending caused this, and Floridians are rightly furious that so-called leaders in Washington are fueling the problem. It’s time to be honest about why that’s happening and how we solve it.

Prices on everything, especially groceries, are sky high, and hardworking Floridians aren’t able to keep up. It now takes $117.40 to buy what $100 could when Biden was inaugurated three years ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI calculator. Meantime, real average weekly earnings have fallen 4.3%. In Tampa, rents have skyrocketed by 30% over the past three years and the average two-bedroom apartment now costs nearly $500 more per month than it did in 2018. This is why Wallethub ranked Tampa as No. 6 on its list of U.S. cities with the biggest inflation problems.

There is a massive disconnect from Wall Street, Washington and the media, and how the American people feel. Floridians in the real world aren’t buying the Biden administration’s claims that “inflation is cooling.” Until we cut spending and see a reduction in costs back to 2020 levels, there won’t be economic relief from the massive damage that Biden’s inflation has caused.

The national debt is more than $34 trillion. That’s $7 trillion more than it was when Biden took office. Here’s an even more disturbing figure: In just the last year, the national debt has grown by more than $2.5 trillion. This explosion of America’s national debt is a grave threat to the stability and security of our country — and it’s not going to stop unless we force change. America must cut its reckless spending and live within its means.

Debt and deficits fuel inflation and limit the federal government from doing the things it promised to do — like build roads and fund Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and national defense. Floridians know that today’s debt and inflation crises were 100% preventable. The fact that Biden doesn’t care to fix his mess is borderline criminal.

Washington needs to admit its failures and cut the overzealous spending that has fueled inflation and hurt American families with skyrocketing prices. In Florida we showed that isn’t controversial or hard. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying to you.

When I took office as governor in 2011, Florida was in economic turmoil. Spending was out of control. We turned Florida around by going through the budget, line by line, and figured out what wasn’t providing a good return for Florida families. When families are struggling to make ends meet, they don’t dig themselves deeper into debt. They look at their expenses, see what matters and cut spending. That’s common sense, and the federal government must do the same.

If you think of America’s debt like a massive credit card bill, you eventually run into an interest expense catastrophe. When you don’t pay off your credit card bill, you have to pay interest on the balance and your debt rises. America’s national debt is no different, but it is way bigger.

The annual interest expense on America’s debt has now surged to more than $980 billion — 11 times bigger than the last Florida state budget I signed in 2018. That is a big problem. We are spending more each year on interest expense than we do on our national defense ($886.3 billion).

I believe that we can fully fund the things that matter in government while getting rid of the waste that has caused the problems before us. If we truly intend to protect and preserve these programs and the core responsibilities that the federal government is charged with providing to American taxpayers, we must act.

This is why I’m fighting to pass my Protect Our Seniors Act to safeguard these programs from the impacts of reckless spending. I’m also working to rein in waste and require a supermajority vote of Congress for any tax or fee hikes to make sure that your government can’t easily force you to pay more to foot the bill for its spending addiction.

While Democrats, and plenty of folks who claim to be Republicans, will scream about what I am proposing as the greatest evil imaginable, we know that’s not true. I believe that we can fully fund the things that matter in government while getting rid of the waste that has caused these problems.

As someone who grew up in public housing and watched my mom struggle to put food on the table every day for our family, I am especially furious at just how much the spending in Washington hurts hardworking families in Florida and across the country.

This is the truth about what’s happening to our economy. I will never let your government lie about what every family is facing thanks to its failures. That’s not how I operate; I will always fight back against even those in my own party. It’s a tough fight, but I won’t stop until we have a balanced budget and fiscal reforms that make Washington work for you.

Republican Rick Scott represents Florida in the U.S. Senate. He is the former governor of Florida.

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