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• Various sources show that there was nearly a $1 increase in the price of a gallon of gasoline over the past year.
• Milk prices rose, but by less than 30 cents. The actual increase was about 18 cents a gallon.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is expressing displeasure with Democratic spending priorities in Congress, arguing that the expanding federal budget has already resulted in inflation for such key commodities as gasoline and milk.
In an Aug. 12 op-ed for The Intelligencer, a Wheeling newspaper, Capito criticized the Democrats’ "reckless tax and spending spree" and suggested that middle-class American families and small businesses will suffer.
She used price increases in West Virginia as an example.
"In West Virginia, a gallon of gas is nearly one dollar more than it was a year ago, and we’re paying about 30 cents more for a gallon of milk than we did at this time last year," Capito wrote.
She added, "This reckless tax and spending spree is filled with taxes on middle-class Americans and small businesses, and will ultimately be paid for by working families at gas pumps, car dealerships, and grocery stores."
When we looked into the underlying data, we found that Capito’s numerical claim was off somewhat, but not dramatically so.
According to AAA, on Aug. 12, 2020, the average price for a gallon of gas in West Virginia was $2.11. On that same day one year later, the average price for a gallon of gas in West Virginia was $3.05. This is a 94-cent change over one year, which is close to a dollar.
As for milk prices, Capito’s office cited information from data for West Virginia produced by Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.
The report found that the price of a gallon of milk was $3.45 in August 2020. At the time of Capito’s statement in August 2021, a gallon of milk in West Virginia was $3.63. That’s an 18-cent increase, not 30 cents.
The U.S. Agriculture Department publishes milk price data for selected cities, but none are in West Virginia. Two of the closer cities to West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Louisville, Ky., saw more than 30-cent increases between August 2020 and August 2021.
It’s worth noting that several factors, including higher demand after business reopenings, have contributed to the price rises for key commodities, not simply government spending.
For gasoline, for instance, Patrick De Haan of the gasoline-price service GasBuddy told PolitiFact that the recent rise "has nothing to do" with policies instituted by the current White House, although those policies could make a difference years down the road. The biggest factor, De Haan said, is that "we're comparing to a time when demand was much much lower amidst COVID-19 lockdowns that brought lower prices."
Capito wrote, "In West Virginia, a gallon of gas is nearly one dollar more than it was a year ago, and we’re paying about 30 cents more for a gallon of milk than we did at this time last year."
Gas prices in West Virginia did rise nearly a dollar during the year prior to her op-ed. Milk prices also rose, but by less than she said, about 18 cents a gallon, rather than 30 cents.
We rate the statement Mostly True.
Op-ed, Shelly Capito, Aug. 12, 2021
Spreadsheet provided by AAA, Aug 31, 2021
United States Congress Joint Economic Committee data, accessed Sept. 1, 2021
Interview with Gary Steinberg, spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sept. 13, 2021
Interview with Kerry Siekmann, agricultural statistician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sept. 13, 2021
Email interview with Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, Aug 31, 2021
Email Interview with Jeanette Casselano, director of external communications with AAA, Aug 31, 2021
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