RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With inflation near a 40-year high, Republicans are spending big bucks leading up to the November election to remind voters just how much more expensive everyday items have become.
Those price spikes have been behind some of the biggest GOP spending on television ads, in much the same way that abortion has been for Democrats.
Republicans have spent more than $40 million on TV ads that mention inflation compared to $4.4 million by Democrats, according to AdImpact.
And in one of those ads that recently started airing in North Carolina, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ted Budd brings up a big number while blaming President Joe Biden for inflation.
THE CLAIM: Budd says in the ad that “Biden’s reckless spending gave us record inflation that’s crushing working families in North Carolina” while a graphic on the screen shows that it’s “costing you $7,691 more.”
THE FACTS: The Budd campaign says that number comes from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee website — and it’s already outdated.
Those numbers come from the map compiled by the committee’s Republicans. It shows how much inflation increases costs for families in each state both annually and per month.
“Specifically, we ask: how much more must the average household pay today to maintain the same standard of living it achieved in January 2021, the last time inflation was within historical norms?” the website says.
It’s important to note the number in the ad is what the Republicans estimated as the cost of inflation for an entire year in North Carolina.
Those figures were updated last week — after the ad was produced — to include July and is now $7,814 more per year, or $651 per month, in North Carolina, where the state inflation rate is 13.9 percent.
Mike Walden, a professor emeritus of economics at North Carolina State University, says those numbers are “in the neighborhood.”
“I would argue the range is somewhere between maybe $5,000 a year — maybe Budd’s number’s a little on the high side, but it’s certainly in the ballpark,” Walden said.
That raw dollar figure ranks in the bottom third nationally. It was highest in July in Colorado ($11,249) and lowest in Maine ($6,670), according to the committee.
“So bottom line here, I mean, everyone knows this — inflation has cost them more money,” he added. “Although we're seeing increases in wages and salaries, they're not keeping, they haven't kept up with inflation. So the result is your standard of living is going down. That’s why people are upset.”
The committee says it has identified three steps that go into figuring it out.
— Determining the average monthly household spending by state, based on personal consumption expenditures reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
— Calculating the inflation rates by state, relative to January 2021.
— Applying those rates to category-specific monthly household spending and inflation costs.
The committee says its benchmark is January 2021 because “prices were not yet rising rapidly” and also because it marked the beginning of a new year and the start of Biden’s presidency.
Yet with the map produced by the Republicans on the committee, is there a concern of partisanship?
Walden doesn’t think so.
“I think what I would prefer is, the reports are issued by the entire committee,” he said. “Sometimes you'll see individual members or groups of members use the capability of that committee of the staff in order to issue their own reports, and I think that's what happened.”