CEDAR RAPIDS — With the national debt approaching $30 trillion and consumer prices increasing for four straight months, Sen. Joni Ernst wants to put the brakes on runaway federal spending on “bottomless boondoggles.”
Ernst gave her July 2021 Squeal Award to the Department of Transportation for spending on extension of a subway line in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s backyard.
Iowans can’t afford to fund a “bottomless pit for taxpayer money,” she said, adding the department is letting “taxpayers to be taken for a ride on this gravy train.”
The second-term Iowa Republican, who first ran for Congress on a “make ’em squeal” slogan, said the price tag on the subway line in question has increased from $4.7 billion three years ago to nearly $6.9 billion today. It’s expected to lose $200 million a year over the next decade.
The San Francisco subway project is emblematic of spending by Democrats who control the House, Senate and White House, Ernst said. So she’s introducing the Put the Brakes on the Boondoggles Act to prevent tax dollars from going to transportation projects that are $1 billion over budget and expected to lose money.
“Certainly, what we spent last year during COVID in order to keep our economy sound, I think was very important,” Ernst said in a call with Iowa reporters. “But we’re beyond that now ... everything we’re looking at right now, it has gone above and beyond what we need to be doing.”
As the country’s economy is reopening, President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats seem to be trying to combat inflation, “which is largely due, in part, to the spending of the federal government,” by increasing federal spending, Ernst said.
The $3.5 trillion new spending Democrats have proposed is nearly as much as the United States spent during World War II when adjusted to today’s dollars, Ernst said.
The U.S. Labor Department reported consumer prices rose 5.4 percent in June from a year ago, the biggest increase in 13 years. It was the fourth straight month of unexpectedly large price increases, heightening fears of persistent inflation.
However, the Biden administration’s plans call for spending trillions of dollars, “which we know is not going to decrease inflation,” Ernst said.
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