Pain At the Pump

Floor Speech

Date: July 27, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PERRY. Madam Speaker, thank you for recognizing the time. I also thank my colleague, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Good), for being here with us.

I am going to talk this evening and kind of follow up on my good colleague from Arizona (Mr. Schweikert). Some astounding information, and I know that he offers it on a regular basis, and I wish more people would tune in.

Of course, I wish more people here would hear his message and, more importantly than hearing his message, take some action in that regard.

It is astounding that, in a year and a half, the people who are working, and everybody is that can do it, they have lost a month and a half of wages.

Think about how long you work every year, essentially for free, because you are still working but you don't get the money because you have to pay your taxes, and that date moves a little back and forth. Sometimes it is in May. Sometimes it is in April. But then add another 2 months. If you add another 2 months onto that that you are working, but you are not being paid, that is astounding.

As I understand it, the average wages under the President for a typical family--and I represent typical families. The average wage of a typical family right now has dropped $450 a month.

Now, that might not seem like a lot of money to people in Washington, D.C., people that invest on Wall Street, people that drive fancy cars and belong to the country club. But where I live, $450 is real. That is groceries. People are trying to pay the bill for daycare so that they can be at work. Of course, the cost for that is going up. People are paying more every single day to drive the vehicle that they are struggling to afford.

I talk to people every single day. Every single day, they tell me: ``I can't pay my bills right now, and I am not sure what to do. I am trying to decide how much to spend on food because I know I have to have enough for gas, and it is not just enough for the end of the week. I am never going to catch up at the rate we are going. I am not going to catch up. What is happening? What are we doing?''

I mean, look at the price of gas. I mean, the President just released another day's worth of supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Mr. Good, you haven't been here very long, but you know the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is meant for natural disasters or national security events. It is not meant for political crises.

A day's worth of oil sold on the open market, I imagine so that the President can say, ``Look, I am trying to help.'' But it is like the fireman saying, ``Hey, look, I am putting out the fire,'' when the fireman started the fire in the first place.

Nobody says, ``Well, that is great. We are happy you are putting out the fire, but if you hadn't started it in the first place, we wouldn't be in this problem.''

Mr. Good, are you talking to folks like this where you live?


Mr. PERRY. It is an egregious failure. I have to remind everybody that that oil, that strategic reserve, was put in there at rock bottom prices.


Mr. PERRY. We filled it up and paid as little as possible for it, probably the lowest prices in decades, and now it is out there being spent at the highest prices ever.


Mr. PERRY. Not only that, as the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Good), my friend, knows--look, I am from Pennsylvania, we have got a lot of natural resources right under our feet.

Instead of coming to Americans to say, ``Can we produce more?'' he is going to people that hate America--Venezuela, Saudi Arabia--even as much as saying that, even though we have sanctioned Iran's oil with this potential Iran nuclear deal pending, they would go there and ask Iran.

But we are getting too far afield here. Look, people are struggling every single day. This is not due to incompetence. This is not due to negligence. This is a plan. This is on purpose.


Mr. PERRY. I yield to the gentleman from Virginia.


Mr. PERRY. Yeah, they are executing the plan. This is by design.

We live in an energy economy. Whether you like it or whether you don't, whether you agree with it or whether you don't, whether we can get to more clean energy at some point in the future than we have now or whether we can't get there as fast as we would like to, we are where we are right now.

Most of us are reliant on the natural resources that are beneath our feet that the Earth provides for us. We have done a great job in America of doing it more cleanly, more professionally, more ethically than any other country on the planet. But yet there is this war on these natural resources and a failure or a refusal to acknowledge that in raising those prices, when the policies raise those prices, they touch every single American citizen, every single one.

So it is not just the gas at the pump, because that is tough enough, but the guy that is driving the truck that brings that stuff, he has got to pay a higher price, and so he has got to charge you a higher price. And the electricity that is generated, that costs more. So every single means of production, every single point along the way raises the price.

How is that manifested? People go to the store, whether it is the grocery store or whether it is a retail outlet--you saw one of the major retail outlets just talked about, just issued their report that their sales are down on regular consumer goods because people can't afford them--people cannot afford to buy them.

People are having to make difficult choices, not because this is just happening, but because this is being imposed on them. It is being imposed on them.

I saw the Fed today increased the rate 75 basis points. Most people say, well, what does that mean to me? That means the value of your dollar, every dollar that you get is worth less, right?

Inflation. People say, well, what does inflation mean? Inflation is taxation. Inflation is the cost of living. Inflation is when you go to the grocery store, if you can find peanut butter on the shelf and you could afford two jars of it for your children last month, you are going to have to pay more this month and maybe you are going to have to cut back on toilet paper that you couldn't get 2 months ago or maybe you are going to have to cut back on baby formula that you can't afford to cut back on because your baby is crying. That is what it means.

The whole way up and down the chain, everybody, the value of every single dollar you earn is worth less, not to mention the fact, as my friend from Arizona mentioned, that you are already working about 1\1/ 2\ months more without pay because of this.

This is what is happening to the American people, and nothing is being done to reverse course to change this. Nothing is being done.

I see my good friend, the gentleman from the great State of Georgia (Mr. Hice) is here. I just wonder if he wants to comment on any of that.


Mr. PERRY. Now, my friend from Georgia, I haven't been to the district that you are privileged and honored to represent. I have been to Mr. Good's, and I can tell you, they are hardworking, taxpaying, law-abiding folks. A lot of them live out in the country, don't live in mansions. They are struggling to get by. I suspect you are hearing it in your district.


Mr. PERRY. I suspect you are hearing it from average working citizens who aren't connected to Washington, D.C., don't have some special privileges, struggling to get by at the grocery store. We would love to hear some of those stories because those are real people that we are here trying to advocate for. They sent you here to fight for them.


Mr. PERRY. Go ahead, Mr. Good.


Mr. PERRY. And not to mention selling portions of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. To China. Again, the national security threat.


Mr. PERRY. That is exactly right, it is an adversary. Because they say so. We wish it weren't true, but they say so.

I am reading that 26 million low-income households who had managed to put aside a nest egg over the term of the last Presidency and the last economy before a year ago have had that savings wiped out just trying to keep up with the prices that are now occurring, and we are only 1\1/ 2\ years into this.

You know, we heard in the beginning, well, inflation is transitory, don't worry, it is not going to last. Then we heard, it is only going to be a point, a small interest rate raise here or there to control this inflation.

When are we going to stop believing these lies? This is not transitory. Now, of course, they are saying, well, look, this is not a recession. A recession is two quarters of declining GDP, that is what it has always been described as. Now, since the left is in charge, it means something else.

Here is what it means to families who are struggling. They see no light at the end of the tunnel. They don't know where this ends. They are having a hard time paying their mortgage, their car payments, and trying to figure out if they can afford their insurance payments which the government has really messed up by being involved in--too involved in--healthcare. There is no free market there. There is no price competition there because the government is too involved.

People have to pay their bills. And they didn't have this stress 1\1/ 2\ years ago, but they have got it right now. The worst part is, there is no end in sight. They don't see anything changing, right? They just saw basis points go up again today.

Look, if you are a young couple that is trying to start out--look, maybe you are an older couple and you are trying to downsize and you got preapproved for a loan, then the Fed goes ahead and raises the interest rate, and you start the process all over again because you are not preapproved anymore because your buying power just went down, I don't know, maybe about $100,000, which is significant when you are trying to buy a home and get started or when you are trying to downsize from the home you can't afford now.

Go ahead, Mr. Hice.


Mr. PERRY. Mr. Good, you are right.

Mr. Hice, with all due respect, you live in Georgia, but Mr. Good mentioned heating your home. Now it is the height of summer, right? The dog days of summer are upon us. Right now we are trying to cool our homes, and we are in fear of blackouts across these United States of America in the 21st century. Unnecessary, but a reality. California, Texas, coming across the country, all due to policy.

But what is coming up is going to be devastating. It is going to be devastating to people across the country, especially in the northern portions of it where I live, where Mr. Good lives, and you are going to suffer a portion of it, too, the inability to afford to heat your home because electricity prices are going through the roof as well.

People realize it now, and they see it now as they pay for their air conditioning, and they probably raised the temperature in the home a little bit to try to help defray the costs, but heating your home is different, and being very, very cold in the wintertime, people die from that. People die from that, especially in places where I live where winters can be harsh, and they are much harsher in points further north. That is coming.

When you talk about the rise in the cost of living, inflation, and essentially taxation, when you talk about that with no end in sight-- people are trying right now, they can't pay their bills now. They certainly can't put anything aside to plan for what they know is coming, it is going to be a long, tough winter. It starts getting cold, it starts going below freezing just right here in Washington, D.C., mid-October. It is right around the corner, and it is going to last until the end of March into April and May of next year. It is coming, and right now there is no end in sight. We haven't heard anything from the administration about how people are going to be helped to afford to pay their bills.

You are not going to be able to sit in the car and turn it on and turn the heater on, because you can't afford the gas. You are not going to be able to sit in your home and turn the heat on. That is coming.


Mr. PERRY. I can't imagine that our colleagues don't care. We can't imagine that.

We are not here to fearmonger. We are talking about real-life situations that are occurring. This is not about trying to invoke fear in the people that pay our salary, our bosses, our constituents. But we are here to defend them and to be their voice and to echo in these Halls the things that they tell us, the things that they are enduring every single day, the things that they are having to live through.

When you talk about it happening right now, it is happening right now. My concern, among others, that is happening right now is there is no end in sight. None of these things are fixed overnight. This has been a--I wouldn't say a slow-moving train. It has actually been a fairly quickly moving train for about a year-and-a-half where we have watched the decline of our purchasing power, we have watched the increase of everything that we can't afford, lack of things on the shelf, like peanut butter, basic staples, baby food. We have watched all of that.

These things take time to be resolved. And if they are going to be resolved at any point in the future, we have to get started now; sometime. I don't know when it is going to be. We are here this week, and then we are going to be gone in August. Then everybody is going to come back in September to see how much more money we can spend before the end of the year, right? And nothing on the agenda that I see, nothing so far that we have voted on this week, has done anything to lead us to believe that we are going to address this problem.

So we are frustrated for the people that we have to face every single day who come up to us at the grocery store. We are buying gas, too. We are at our grocery stores. We are at the hardware store. We are at the feed store. We are at the clothing store and retail outlets. They walk up to you and say: What are you doing about it to stop it?

We don't have the executive branch, Mr. Hice. We certainly don't have this branch. The power of the purse belongs in this branch. Look, you don't want to disparage sailors, but they are spending like somebody who doesn't care about how much money they spend. It is very, very frustrating.

So all we are left with, Mr. Good, my friend from Virginia, is the rhetoric we have to let the people at home know that we think enough of them, and we care enough about what they are dealing with to come in and make sure that it is put on the record for all posterity, for all time, that we recognize what is happening to them. We do not agree with this. If we were in charge here, things wouldn't be happening this way.


Mr. PERRY. With about the minute-and-a-half we have left, I will turn it to Mr. Good. He can close it out or I will.

I think, Mr. Hice, you have characterized it correctly. It doesn't matter whether you live in the country or the city or the suburbs. Doesn't matter what your background is. Everybody is feeling this.


Mr. PERRY. I think that is well put.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.