Inflation remains a top concern among Americans, so what do the Republicans seeking President Joe Biden’s job say they’ll do about it?
MarketWatch asked the 2024 GOP White House hopefuls to give at least three ways that they would address the elevated prices that have blown up many household budgets.
Most campaigns provided responses, while some didn’t but have offered proposals in other venues. See what they’re all planning below.
The economy is the No. 1 issue for Republican voters, according to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, which found 36% citing the economy generally and an additional 10% citing inflation.
MarketWatch contacted the eight contenders who took part in their primary’s first debate, along with former President Donald Trump, who skipped the debate, and two relatively well-known contenders who failed to qualify for the first debate, Larry Elder and former Congressman Will Hurd. They are listed below in order of their ranking in the latest polls, based on a RealClearPolitics moving average.
Inflation was low when Trump became president, with prices rising less than 2% a year. That was even considered a problem before the COVID-19 pandemic, with inflation often characterized as stubbornly or persistently low. Inflation began to spike in 2021, shortly after Biden took office, due to a global shortage of goods and a huge rebound in consumer demand following the pandemic’s early stages. Economists say massive stimulus by both the Trump and Biden administrations as well as low interest rates fostered by the Federal Reserve helped to push inflation to a 40-year high.
Biden has stressed that inflation, as measured by the consumer-price index, has “fallen by around two-thirds,” and he and his team have talked up their efforts to lower costs for prescription drugs and insulin, to crack down on junk fees for a range of services, and to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gasoline prices. Biden’s re-election campaign didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment.
“I would get inflation down,” Trump said in a recent interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” while saying that “we did a great job with inflation.” His campaign pointed MarketWatch to a number of policy proposals in which Trump himself is quoted.
- The former president says he’ll rein in what he calls Biden’s “wasteful spending,” which Trump says is key to stopping inflation. Trump is proposing to use what’s known as impoundment authority to reduce federal spending. That term refers to the ability of a president to withhold congressionally appropriated funds from their intended use, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
- Trump also calls for boosting energy output. “When I’m back in the White House, I will immediately unleash energy production, slash regulations, like I did just three years ago, and repeal Biden’s tax hikes to get inflation down as fast as possible, and it will go quickly, so that interest rates can get back under control,” Trump says on his campaign website. “I would get inflation down, because drill we must,” he told “Meet the Press.”
- A Trump spokesman did not respond when asked for specifics about which Biden-approved tax increases Trump would repeal. The former president and his advisers, meanwhile, have reportedly discussed deeper cuts to both individual and corporate rates that would build on the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, says a spokesman, “will reduce inflation by, among other measures, tackling government spending, unleashing domestic energy and removing burdensome Biden administration regulations.”
- In his economic plan, DeSantis leans heavily into energy policy for addressing inflation. “DeSantis will unleash our domestic energy sector, modernize and protect our grid and advance American energy independence. This will not only increase our economic and national security while reducing inflation, [but] it will also help fuel a manufacturing renaissance that will create jobs, revitalize our communities and improve our standard of living,” says his plan.
- He told “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” that, as president, he would “stop spending so much money. We need a president that’s going to be a force for spending restraint, because that’s one of the root causes, with Congress spending so much.” He criticized both Democrats and Republicans for government spending.
“This isn’t complicated,” entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy said in a recent post on X. “Fight inflation, unleash growth by taking the handcuffs [off] the U.S. energy sector & dismantling the regulatory state.” His campaign didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment, but his campaign website offers the following proposals:
- “Drill, frack & burn coal : abandon the climate cult & unshackle nuclear energy.”
- “Launch deregulatory ‘Reagan 2.0’ revolution: cut > 75% headcount amongst U.S. regulators.”
Ramaswamy is also calling for dramatically changing the Federal Reserve, by ending the central bank’s dual mandate of keeping inflation low and maintaining full employment. “Limit the U.S. Fed’s scope: stabilize the dollar
& nothing more,” his campaign site says.
A spokesman for Nikki Haley’s campaign pointed to a Fox Business interview on Wednesday in which she called for ending the federal gas tax and cutting spending, as well as to her speech Friday in New Hampshire on her economic plan.
- “We want to eliminate the federal gas tax completely,” Haley told Fox Business. “We have to get more money in our taxpayers’ pockets.” That tax helps pay for highways, but she said the system isn’t working, echoing a point that some policy analysts have previously made. Biden pushed for temporarily suspending the federal gas tax in 2022, but Congress didn’t provide sufficient support for his proposal. In her economic speech, Haley also promised to cut income taxes for working families and make permanent the tax cuts that small businesses scored in 2017’s GOP tax overhaul.
- The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said members of Congress are “spending like drunken sailors,” as she promised to reduce the federal government’s outlays. “I will veto any spending bill that doesn’t take us back to pre-COVID levels,” she told Fox Business, referring to budgets that date to before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
- Haley in her speech Friday pledged to support the U.S. energy industry, as she suggested that Washington has been “stifling it.” She said: “We’ll drill so much oil and gas, families will save big on their utility bills.”
A spokesman for Pence’s campaign pointed to the former vice president’s plan for “ending inflation,” which calls for actions such as reducing the federal government’s spending and changing the Federal Reserve’s job description.
- A Pence administration would “end runaway deficits by freezing non-defense spending, eliminating unnecessary government programs, repealing over $3 trillion in new spending under Biden, and reforming mandatory programs that drive our debt,” the plan says. Earlier this year, he urged “commonsense and compassionate” reforms for programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.
- Pence wants to end the Fed’s dual mandate, which calls for the U.S. central bank to focus on full employment and stable prices. “Trying to serve two, often contradictory goals has led to wild fluctuation in rates,” his plan says, adding that it’s better to “leave employment policy to the president and Congress.”
- The former vice president’s plan said he aims to bring supply chains and production “back home,” and that would happen by “removing regulatory burdens, enacting pro-growth tax policies, and ensuring access to abundant American energy.” In other words: “We will fight inflation by making America the best place to do business again.”
Similar to his 2024 GOP rivals, Pence blasts Biden’s energy policies, though some of the Democratic incumbent’s stances, such as his approval of the Willow drilling project in Alaska, have also been criticized by environmental groups. Pence’s plan says: “It is time to reverse Biden’s attack on American energy by restarting oil and gas leasing on federal lands, opening the Arctic and offshore regions for exploration
approving safe transportation of oil and gas, mining rare earth minerals, and rejecting climate change hysteria that is causing U.S. energy
production to fall.”
Chris Christie’s White House campaign didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s requests for comment, but the former New Jersey governor has emphasized that reducing government spending will help tame inflation.
“The out-of-control government spending has created this inflation,” Christie said in June during a CNN town hall. “I mean, even Larry Summers, who I don’t agree with much on, former Democratic Treasury secretary, warned Joe Biden, ‘Don’t do this spending. It’s going to cause the inflation.’ So, first, we need to bring spending down, and we’ve talked about that before.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott pointed to reducing the federal government’s spending and repealing one of Biden’s signature legislative packages, when asked about how he would address inflation.
- Scott, from South Carolina, said in a statement that he would aim to “snap non-defense discretionary spending back to the pre-COVID 2019 baseline.” He described that as stopping Democrats from “turning the temporary pandemic into permanent socialism.”
- Scott said he would rescind the Inflation Reduction Act, which is Democrats’ big economic package aimed at addressing climate change, capping drug costs and raising hundreds of billions of dollars through taxes on corporations. “The Inflation Reduction Act actually increased inflation and the only thing it reduced was money in our pockets,” he said in his statement. “Cutting that off and restoring tax cuts and eliminating the tax increases would go a long way to having the kind of stimulative impact in our economy and controlling spending.”
- Scott called for stronger economic growth. “We have to also grow our economy somewhere near 5% consistently,” he said, adding that could create 10 million jobs. The U.S. economy grew by nearly 6% in 2021 after contracting in 2020 as COVID hit, then it expanded by about 2% in 2022.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson blames “excessive federal spending” for leading to inflation when giving speeches, and outlines a plan for “fiscal responsibility” on his campaign site.
- “Restore discipline by reducing federal government size, cutting spending, balancing the budget, and lowering the deficit to tame inflation,” it states.
- When Hutchinson was governor, he signed a $500 million tax-cut package, saying “it could not come at a better time with the continued challenge of high food and gas prices.” That was in August 2022. On his campaign website, he repeats a call to cut taxes and “reduce regulations to boost the private sector and enhance wages for American workers.”
Hutchinson’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from MarketWatch.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s website says that as president he would “get inflation under control, cut taxes, lower gas prices
reduce the cost of living and help people realize their fullest potential.” It doesn’t provide specifics.
A spokesman for Burgum’s White House campaign didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s requests for comment. A spokesman reportedly told the New York Times that the campaign will roll out its vision and plans on its own timeline.
Larry Elder, a conservative radio host and a gubernatorial candidate in California in the failed 2021 recall of Democratic incumbent Gavin Newsom, said he views energy and tax policy and a constitutional amendment as ways to whip inflation.
“Reverse the war on oil
; permit drilling in Anwar [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge]; authorize the Keystone Pipeline; reverse the Biden restrictions on drilling on federal lands; and encourage nuclear energy
” Elder said in a statement.
- “Encourage an amendment to the Constitution to set spending to a fixed percent of the GDP,” he also said.
- Elder said the reduction in spending forced by that constitutional amendment would “coincide with a steep reduction in personal and corporate income taxes,” offering further help to Americans with stretched budgets.
Former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas announced his candidacy in June but so far hasn’t made it to the debate stage. In his campaign-launch video, he labeled inflation “still out of control.”
- In a post on X in June, Hurd called for reining in spending. “You cannot be putting government funds into, at a time where you’re seeing the rising inflation,” he said.
- And he said tax hikes are a nonstarter when inflation is high. “The worst time to talk about increasing taxes is when everybody’s hurting from inflation.”
- Hurd also said the deficit should be addressed, to “start bending the curve back on the debt.”
Hurd’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from MarketWatch.
Jeffry Bartash contributed.