Krishnamoorthi, Dargis discuss causes, solutions for nation's skyrocketing inflation
With many struggling through nation's extraordinary inflation in 2022, Democratic congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and Republican challenger Chris Dargis of Palatine recently shared their thoughts on its causes and most attainable solutions.
Both hopefuls for Illinois' 8th Congressional District seat discussed inflation and other national issues before representatives of the Daily Herald Editorial Board.
Dargis said he puts a significant amount of blame on the COVID-19 relief stimulus and other spending that accompanied the start of the Biden administration in early 2021. He also targets what he called the administration's war on U.S. energy production.
"So in order to solve it, the first thing we need to do is get energy production moving in this country again," Dargis said. "We have 2% of the normal amount of gas and oil leases approved that we would normally have under prior administrations -- both Democrat and Republican. The first thing this administration did when they came in, with nary a peep from my opponent, was to shut down the Keystone (XL) Pipeline, cost American jobs and really send a signal to the world that we were no longer in the business of being energy independent."
The decision to no longer be a net energy exporter has had consequences beyond energy costs, he added.
"It's enriched tyrants like Vladimir Putin," Dargis said. "When we stop producing global commodities, it raises the price of them and allows the Putin war machine to continue to soldier on. It is a global phenomenon, but it is one we have great control over. It's embarrassing, frankly, to see the Biden administration in light of all this going hat in hand around the globe begging despotic regimes like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to pump more oil when we can do the exact same thing here at home and create American jobs in the process."
Krishnamoorthi said inflation is a big problem that needs to be tackled, naming the Inflation Reduction Act as a key tool. He identified what he sees as four factors contributing to inflation: government spending on things such as prescription drugs and other items vital to the pandemic; supply chain disruptions mainly caused by the initial mishandling of COVID-19; Russia's war against Ukraine; and profiteering by corporations.
Krishnamoorthi said he initiated an investigation into the latter that demonstrated a high concentration of market power among a small number of companies in several industries like meatpacking, shipping and rental cars.
He countered Dargis' criticism of Biden-era pandemic relief by noting that inflation is occurring around the world. The COVID-relief bill, he added, provided more than 1,000 business-relief loans in the 8th District, millions of dollars that helped schools reopen to in-person learning, and $6 million to help Palatine upgrade its emergency-response equipment.
"That's what government is supposed to do in a crisis," Krishnamoorthi said. "It's supposed to come and help people and business to get up off their feet. And now we need to do things like the Inflation Reduction Act, which is reducing prescription drug prices, which is reducing energy costs, and is reducing the deficit and fighting inflation."
More oversight should have accompanied the Paycheck Protection Program loans early in the pandemic that led to cases of fraud, he added. But he said the overall benefits of the program were positive for the economy.
The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes areas of northwest Cook, northeast DuPage and northeast Kane counties.