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Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho)

The holidays have arrived, a time for faith, family, and friendship. But this year, new worries weigh on the season. Small businesses and families across Idaho are confronted with broken supply chains and rising prices on everything from gas to groceries.

Idaho is among the states hit hardest by the domestic supply chain disruption with more than half of Gem State small businesses reporting that delays are impacting them directly. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the empty store shelves we saw in March 2020, small businesses spent much of last year proactively planning their inventories for the busy holiday shopping season when many make the majority of their annual sales. Some grocers bought turkeys as far back as February, other retailers stocked up on toys all summer. Even so, many still find themselves falling short of supply goals as demand for products grows.  

Backlogs at ports and a truck driver shortage have added as many as 12 weeks to delivery times. And while larger retailers are also experiencing supply chain disruptions, they have bigger budgets and greater bidding power to get their products to customers than Idaho’s mom-and-pop shops do. Shipping costs have more than doubled, and razor thin margins are forcing many local retailers to raise their prices, even at the risk of losing their customers.

The steep increase in prices is not tied to supply chain issues alone. Democrats’ out-of-control spending has sent inflation soaring by more than 6 percent from one year ago, causing the cost of household items to surge while the price at the pump has jumped by 60 percent. For Idaho families – especially those with a low household income – this is a dangerous trend, and many are beginning to worry how they will make ends meet.

“The prices that are increasing just for a basic living are affecting families and really causing them to stretch budgets and unfortunately in some places make really hard choices,” Chief Development Officer Morgan Wilson of the Idaho Foodbank recently told Boise-based KTVB.

It’s little wonder that Idahoans are concerned, especially when you consider that the supply chain crunch paired with the sharp rise in inflation has many experts anticipating that 2021 will be the most expensive holiday season in the last 30 years.

The Biden administration has tried to downplay rising inflation, dismissing concerns as overblown or exaggerated. But the evidence speaks otherwise. In the year that Democrats have been in charge of the House, the Senate, and the White House, they have reduced U.S. energy production, disincentivized people from rejoining the workforce, and deficit spent trillions of dollars. These actions have consequences, and the consequences are hitting Idaho’s small businesses and families in real time.

Yet instead of focusing on ways to limit the damage, Democrats are intent on jamming through the President’s nearly $2 trillion social spending package through Congress. For Idahoans who are raising families and struggling to pay their bills, the so-called “Build Back Better” bill will only make current economic challenges significantly worse.

There is still time to correct course, but not much. The best gift the Biden administration could give the American people is to accept responsibility for its policies that are harming small businesses and families, then get to work on making things right.

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