A History Lesson for the Governor

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

In announcing the latest revenue collections (they are high), Governor Youngkin renewed his pitch for tax cuts, commenting, “This report confirms that the time is now to deliver meaningful tax cuts to Virginia families who are getting crushed by five-dollar gas and record-high inflation.”

That statement gave me pause.  “Record-high inflation”?  I am old enough to easily remember the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when mortgage rates were in the mid-teens and, I seem to remember, inflation was high as well.  (I realize that Mr. Youngkin was only 14 years old in 1980, so he probably was not paying attention to such things.)

A little research confirmed my memory.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), inflation peaked in March 1980, with the CPI 14.8 percent higher than it had been 12 months earlier.  Inflation was 11.35 percent for calendar year 1979 and 13.5 percent for calendar 1980.

The BLS data provides additional historical perspective.  During the period of July 1916-November 1918, the inflation factor was 19.1 percent on an annualized basis.  From November 1918-June 1920, it “dropped” to 17.3 percent.  For the 12-month period of March 1946-March 1947, overall prices increased 20.1 percent.  For the 24-month period of Dec. 1972-Dec. 1974, the annualized inflation rate was 10.5 percent.  There was the period in the late 1970’s and early ‘80s already mentioned.  Even as recently as Oct. 1989-Nov. 1990, the inflation rate was 6.3 percent over each 12-month period, not that much lower than today’s current rate.

Today’s price increases are causing hardship for many people.  However, that is no reason for politicians to exaggerate them for their own purposes.