March saw a 0.6% increase in consumer prices, the largest spike in almost a decade. The increase can be largely attributed to a rise in inflation.
Nevertheless, increased inflation, a rise in demand for crude oil, and the Biden administration's proposed new taxes and regulatory measures could send gas and energy prices soaring even higher in the months to come, critics contend.
In March, gasoline prices spiked 9.1% and natural gas rose 2.5%, contributing to an overall increase of 5% for energy costs last month. For the year, food prices are up 3.5%, gasoline prices are up 22.5%, and overall energy prices are up 13.2%.
The rise in costs come as many Americans struggle financially during the COVID-19 pandemic and President Joe Biden considers tax increases and more regulations that critics say would slow economic growth.
During a Monday meeting with lawmakers, Biden expressed indications of adding five cents to the federal gas tax, which would be a 27% increase over the current 18.4 cents. The White House has given mixed answers about raising the federal gas tax.
The increase in energy prices, particularly gasoline, leads to an overall spike in the price of consumer goods. When drivers spend more on gasoline to transport goods to market, that cost is passed on to consumers.
“When energy prices rise, the poor and middle class suffer the most,” said Daniel Turner, founder of Power the Future, an advocacy group for energy workers. “Families still have to drive their kids to school, they still have to go to work and to get their COVID vaccines, but they have to pay more to do so. Those unaffected are the rich and the connected, those politicians who get their bills paid by PACs and taxpayers. The very people the left claims to help, the poor, the middle class, rural Americans, they are the ones hurt the most by their policies.“
Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., blasted the Biden administration Tuesday for not using the federal reserve to lower inflation. An increase in federal reserve interest rates can be used as a tool to lower inflation, which is a major component in increased prices.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell told “60 Minutes” Sunday that the U.S. economy is at an “inflection point” and that interest rates would likely not be raised this year.
“President Biden and Chair Powell need to wake up,” Scott said. “When you grow up poor, as I did, you know how much it means to a family when prices go up. Today’s CPI data is clear – inflation is on the rise. Yet Biden and Powell remain in la-la land, ignoring the fact that prices of everyday goods, like groceries and essential business supplies, are rising and making it harder for folks to make ends meet.
“Americans can’t afford for this to be ignored any longer,” he concluded.