U.S. Representative French Hill, R-Little Rock, juggles many of his congressional duties, but finding solutions to curb inflation may be the most pressing priority for the four-term representative.
A former banker and US Treasury executive, Hill has experience in the arena where most politicians will play to keep inflation in check. He said the roots of the current situation run through two administrations.
“I think it’s been happening since the pandemic…it’s the classic definition of too much money for too few goods,” he said.
Hill cited stimulus packages for individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic as being too broad and not targeted enough, but that’s in hindsight.
“No one knew what was going to happen to our economy. There was a lot of mystery in February, March, and April 2020. And so Congress had an unprecedented amount of authorized and proper spending of about $6 trillion that if we knew then what we know now, we wouldn’t. wouldn’t have spent so much money. We could have much better targeted solutions in and around the pandemic,” Hill said.
The 2nd District congressman also said the Federal Reserve Bank could have acted sooner to take actions to reduce inflation, such as raising interest rates, which it did recently.
“On the demand side, you have a loose monetary policy of zero interest rates and the Fed is buying $120 billion a month of government debt. They didn’t let go of the accelerator either in the fourth quarter of 2020, they maintained that literally until the last few weeks. So it’s on the demand side,” Hill said. “On the supply side, obviously the pandemic has disrupted a lot of supply chain operations around the world and particularly here in the United States. We therefore had shortages of a number of products due to the closure of entire factories. during the pandemic.
He added that Russia’s unprovoked war with Ukraine has also worsened supply shortages. Hill avoided saying oil and gas companies were inflating prices, but said supply was key to correcting high gas prices.
“It’s important that you bring up the energy situation because in 2020 many upstream producers went out of business. They went bankrupt, refineries laid off thousands of workers. In fact, one of our major refineries closed and didn’t reopen during the pandemic due to labor constraints and other challenges, so you had a lot of offline production during the pandemic, just before the pandemic we were producing 13 million barrels per day in the United States. We were energy independent. And coming out of the pandemic, we were down to just over 11 million barrels a day, which created a major supply and demand issue during the reopening the economy. And now you have this international crisis,” he said.
Hill was a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that passed Congress overwhelmingly last week addressing opioid addiction and mental health funding. Between inflation hearings, the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the January 6 committee hearings, the success of passing this legislation was overshadowed.
A critic of the Jan. 6 committee building, Hill said the information that came to light on the eve of the U.S. Capitol bombings is not new, but remains troublesome.
“I think the kinds of advice and information that’s been flowing through the White House that we’ve known for a long time, I think has been repackaged in this committee. I think that’s how I would describe it. John Eastman’s memo and some of these people who were going around the White House with their suggestions that something different might happen on January 6, you know, that wasn’t right. It was crazy to come up with that. And i’m so glad the president also had advisers who were like, ‘this is crazy.’ i mean, it’s not going to happen. and i think it just came into being in the packaging of this 6th january debate But it wasn’t good when we first heard about it and it’s not good when we hear about it again, after the fact,” he said.
Hill is up for re-election in 2022. This fall, he will face Democratic challenger Quintessa Hathaway and Libertarian Michael White.
You can watch the full interview with Rep. Hill in the video below.