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Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Blake Moore talk inflation

Photo of gas prices at Smith's showing $3.88 for unleaded and $3.99 for diesel.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Gas prices in July 2021 at a Smith's gas station in Utah reached nearly $4 per gallon.

The country’s inflation rate is at a 40-year high. It’s even higher in Utah and other states in the region, impacting the cost of everything from gas to groceries.

During a Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce town hall Tuesday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, mostly chalked it up to supply chain issues and the way the government spends money.

“Now, people in Utah are suffering the consequences of inflation, and they're both confident and very, very correct when they blame it on spending in Washington,” Lee said.

He’s introduced a bill that makes it more difficult for Congress to spend money when inflation is up.

In response to inflation, Rep. Blake Moore, R-UT, is eyeing more oil and gas production in the U.S. During the town hall, Moore said the regulatory hurdles such projects have to clear is “mind boggling.”

“I have never shied away from talking about the climate,” Moore said. “I've never shied away from talking about the environment. I just think there's a different path forward that embraces what we can do here, where we do it better and cleaner and and ultimately not have to rely so much on our foreign partners.”

Moore, Lee and other members of Utah’s Congressional delegation have previously blamed the Biden administration’s policies for the high costs.

In Weber State University economist Doris Geide-Stevenson’s opinion, there are three things to consider.

“The sources of where inflation comes from are what we expect to happen, how close are we to full employment, and then some special factors, like the supply chain disruptions,” she said. “So it's a pretty complicated problem. It cannot be that there's just one person responsible for that.”

Geide-Stevenson says federal spending doesn’t matter as much as these other factors.

As for loosening up regulations to respond to supply chain disruptions, she said it could help ease inflation, but that can’t be the only consideration.

“In terms of the root causes for the supply chain issues, that's a pretty complex issue,” she said. “And if you say it's just about restrictive regulations, that's too narrow in my mind.”

Geide-Stevenson said the responsibility mostly lies with the Federal Reserve to address price stability. She said she wants individual people to understand their role, too.

“What you have to do as an individual is make decisions that are best for your household,” she said.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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