President Joe Biden is using every tool in his arsenal to send a clear message to Americans this holiday season: Don’t pin inflation on me.
Republicans have been working to blame the president and Democrats in Congress for the 31 year-high in the consumer price index in attempts to block Biden’s keystone Build Back Better social spending plan. They’re touting high inflation as a pivotal campaign issue ahead of what will be a contentious midterm campaign cycle.
“We’re going to continue to have inflation,” Senator Rick Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month, “and then interest rates will go up. This is a gold mine for us.”
But Biden isn’t taking the abuse sitting down. In a political move that is out of character for the president, he took to the official POTUS Twitter account to fire back against Scott.
“One Republican Senator said that rising prices were “a gold mine” for Republicans politically,” the president wrote. “Imagine rooting for higher costs for American families just to score a few political points.”
Biden has also delivered a slew of on-camera speeches over the last two weeks touting his economic accomplishments and explaining that he is doing all he can to fight inflation, which has increased by more than 6% year-over-year.
Scott, meanwhile, has put his words into action. Two days after talking to the Wall Street Journal, he blamed Biden for a 15% increase in Medicare Part B premiums. The increase was because of “Biden’s inaction to address the inflation crisis he and Washington Democrats have created with reckless spending and socialist policies,” he said.
The increase, according to Kaiser Health News, was because of high costs of a new Alzheimer’s drug and as a response to a premium freeze last year in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
In hearings with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, Republicans spent much time testifying about the impact Biden’s policies (which have not yet been passed or enacted) have had on rising costs.
“It is the administration’s agenda that is driving up the cost of things. It’s making the American people worse off, not better off,” said Representative Patrick McHenry (R- N.C.), ranking Republican on the Financial Services panel.
“Y’all won the election. It’s your prerogative to ignore Republican concerns. But you went forward with the American Rescue Plan, which we warned would increase inflation,” Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) said. “That’s exactly what happened. You’re set to repeat the exact same mistake.”
Well-funded conservative groups, meanwhile, are launching large advertising campaigns ahead of the midterm elections to hammer home their inflation message.
The Club For Growth launched an ad campaign in November targeting moderate Democrats who support Biden’s Build Back Better plan for their role in increasing inflation. The Coalition to Protect American Workers, led by former Vice President Mike Pence‘s former chief of staff, Marc Short, launched a six-figure ad campaign last month against Democratic lawmakers with an emphasis on increasing prices.
Most economists (on the left and right) agree that Biden’s policies have little to do with rising inflation. Analysts at Moody’s Analytics and Fitch Ratings say that the bill has no impact on the increasing prices because the money from it won’t begin to flow into the economy until 2022, and due to its decade-long rollout and revenue-raising offsets.
In reality, there is little the president can do to tamp down inflation. Biden has used his executive power to ease supply chain problems at ports and he’s met with the CEOs of large retailers asking them to stock their shelves quickly to meet demand. He also announced last week that he would release oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but the impact on gas prices will likely be minimal. “While our actions will not solve the problem of high gas prices overnight,” the president said last Tuesday, “it will make a difference over time.”
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