GOP lawmakers say high gas prices, crime top voters’ concerns heading into 2022 midterm election

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House Republicans say voters are preoccupied with kitchen table issues — rising crime, the immigration crisis, and inflation — which will drive them to vote this midterm election cycle. 

Several GOP lawmakers were asked what the most pressing issue was ahead of the November midterms by Fox News Digital during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas. 

“There’s so many more issues right now, you know what American people are worried about … inflation, gas, crime, the border, the fact we’re losing our kids because of this devious [critical race theory],” said Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah. “Those are the things that Americans are talking about. No one else cares about the other stuff, that’s not going to matter for us.”

Inflation, in particular, was an issue that lawmakers were quick to mention. Under President Biden, prices have risen at the sharpest rate in more than 40 years.

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The impact has hit consumers across the board. The Labor Department reported earlier this week that the cost of food has risen 10.9% in the past 12 months, while gasoline prices have risen 44%. 

Even though inflation has decreased slightly over the past month, driven by a decline in gasoline prices, costs are still up significantly more than when Biden entered office. 

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“For my constituents in Texas …. the issues that are important for them [are] inflation, how much they’re paying or gay, how much they’re paying for healthcare costs,” said Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas. “They’re looking at their future. They’re looking at their retirement, and they’re scared right now.”

GOP lawmakers were quick to blame the White House for inflation. They argue the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, passed by congressional Democrats and championed by Biden, flooded the economy with excess money when the nation was facing a supply chain crisis last March.

Republicans say the spending package, coupled with the administration’s regulatory regime, has caused prices to spike. They say the reality is especially evident in the energy sector, where Biden has sought to push companies into adopting green initiatives to lower carbon emissions.

“The solution is energy independence, you help manufacturing cut costs, if you become energy independent. You help farmers with their input costs, you help families at the pump,” said Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va. “Everything will be impacted by energy independence, and that’s what we’ve got to get back to.” 

The White House has defended its policies, arguing that Biden’s decisions in recent months have led to a drop in prices at the pump

“He is releasing 1 billion barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He is rallying international partners to release an unprecedented amount of oil,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “More work remains, but prices are coming down, and the President will continue to call on domestic and international oil producers to increase output so that they can continue to come down.”

Apart from inflation and the economy, GOP lawmakers also say that crime and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border are weighing big in the minds of voters. 

“They’re looking at what’s happening at our southern border. They don’t like what they’re seeing in their streets as a result of that,” said Van Duyne. “They don’t like the increase death and fentanyl. They don’t like to encourage sex trafficking in gang traffic that they’re seeing in their streets.” 

GOP lawmakers say that if entrusted with majorities in Congress this November, they’ll push to hold the Biden White House accountable for the current political environment.

“We want to make sure that the spending is accountable,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. “We’re concerned about the border, we’re concerned about surging crime rates … the supply chain issues that are occurring that don’t seem to be getting fixed, whether it’s baby formula or peanut butter.” 

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