White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that opponents are using rising as a ‘political cudgel,’ as the administration continues to try to retool its rhetoric after a new report showed consumers were getting hammered by price increases.
‘It’s become a political cudgel, and it shouldn’t be,’ said Psaki, speaking at her first White House press briefing since testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
‘It’s impacting … millions of Americans, no matter their political party, and that’s certainly of concern to the president,’ she continued. She noted that ‘everyone from the Federal Reserve to Wall Street agree with our assessment’ that inflation will ‘substantially decelerate next year.’
She also cited experts, including former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who have said Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan ‘will not add to inflationary pressure.’
The plan, whose House version is still being scored by the Congressional Budget Office, contains tax hikes that the administration says will more than make up for the spending increases.
Inflation has ‘become a political cudgel, and it shouldn’t be,’ said White House Press Secretary
The bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden plans to sign Monday would add billions to the national debt, pushing more money into the market and potentially adding to inflationary effects.
Psaki also sought to put inflation in terms relevant to ordinary Americans – as Biden’s approval ratings hover in the low 40s and Americans face rising costs at the supermarket and elsewhere.
‘We’re really talking about costs to people,’ she said. ‘So it’s cost of childcare. Cost of housing. Cost of gas. Cost of household goods. That’s how people are experiencing this on a day to day basis, and that is of course of concern to the president.’
She pointed to the plan’s billions for housing and child care and said ‘this is a strong case for moving forward with this agenda.’
Psaki didn’t specify any Republicans when she made her ‘cudgel’ comment, although the GOP has been hammering Biden over the issue.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News two weeks ago this would be ‘the most expensive Thanksgiving we’ve ever had … Our shelves when you go into our stores you don’t believe it’s America. What we do not have, our shelves have become empty, and it’s based upon the Democratic policies.’
President Donald Trump has also been hitting Biden on inflation, as he plots a potential comeback run for the White House.
President Biden retooled some of his language in an event at the Port of Baltimore Wednesday, saying ‘not a lot of people’ understand supply chain issues impacting prices.
Psaki pointed to provisions in Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan that would pay for childcare costs and build housing is counteracting inflation in the economy
House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy said this would be ‘the most expensive Thanksgiving we’ve ever had’ due to inflation
‘The irony is people have more money now because of the first major piece of legislation I passed.
Then he indicated his own stimulus checks in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan could have goosed inflation.
‘You all got checks for $1,400. You got checks for a whole range of things,’ Biden said, referencing his COVID relief checks sent out in April.
‘If you’re a mom and you have kids under the age of 7, you get $300 a month and if it’s over 7 to 17, you’re getting $360 a month,’ he said, misstating the second amount, which is $250 per month.
‘It changes people’s lives. But what happens if there’s nothing to buy and you got more money to compete for getting [goods]? It creates a real problem.’
Biden has previously blamed the 6.2 percent increase in the cost of living on ‘market manipulation’ and rising gas prices.
The Consumer Price Index figures released this week showed gas prices jumped a whopping 59 percent over last year, as the cost of meat increased 24 percent.
Vice President Kamala Harris admitted Friday that rising prices due to inflation have become a ‘heavy weight to carry’ for American households, but claimed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill could provide some relief.
‘It is designed to make it less expensive for working people to live,’ she said of the spending bill, which Congress still needs to pass. ‘And Build Back Better is not going to cost anything. We are paying for it,’ she added.
Harris took questions from a pre-approved list of reporters – and one rogue French journalist – at her Friday afternoon press conference in Paris, where she was asked about the soaring prices back home and after a USA TODAY/Suffolk poll last week showed her approval rating at just 28 percent.
Harris traveled to Paris to rub elbows with French President Emmanuel Macron after the French briefly recalled their ambassador to the U.S. after being blindsided by a security pact between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia – which also meant a lucrative submarine deal between France and Australia would be cancelled.
The vice president denied she made the trip to smooth over ruffled feathers.
‘I will tell you that was not the purpose of this trip and we didn’t discuss it,’ Harris said of the submarine fallout.
Vice President Kamala Harris admitted Friday at a press conference in Paris that rising prices due to inflation have become a ‘heavy weight to carry’ for American households, but claimed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill could provide some relief
Biden met one-on-one with Macron at the opening of the G20 in Rome late last month, where he admitted the deal’s rollout could have been handled better.
Harris, like Biden – who had skewered China and Russia for skipping the in-person G20 – talked about the importance of having these meetings in person.
‘We must be present and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been traveling like I have and the president has been traveling in spite of the restrictions we’ve had with COVID because we do understand the significance of being present,’ the vice president said.
‘And as it relates to me as his vice president, I think that there is no question that I am here as a representative of my country and my presence here is reflective of the priorities that the United States has as it relates to France,’ she said, as a final answer to the submarine question.
She addressed inflation several times during the press conference.
‘Prices have gone up,’ she acknowledged. ‘And families and individuals are dealing with the realities of – bread cost more, the gas cost more – we have to understand what that means, that’s about the cost of living going up, that’s about having to stress and stretch limited resources.’
‘That’s about a source of stress for families that’s not only economic, but on a daily level, something that is a heavy weight to carry,’ she continued.
At the top of her remarks she said she was aware that ‘families are worried about being able to make sure Santa Claus gets whatever Santa Claus should get to the children by Christmas.’
And at another point in the press conference she called inflation a ‘big deal.’
‘It’s a big deal and so we are doing what we can making it probably one of our highest priorities.’
‘We need to bring costs down for the American people,’ she added.
The Consumer Price Index rose 6.2 percent in October 2021 from one year prior – the highest it has been since 1990
The Consumer Price Index shows a rise in prices in every category from used cars, laundry equipment, furniture to food
She pointed to the Biden administration’s moves to iron out supply chain issues – such as having the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach move to a 24-hour operation.
But Harris also said the Build Back Better bill should provide some relief – as it’s supposed to decrease the cost of child and elder care for American families.
‘So when we can get Build Back Better passed, and we are optimistic that we will, American people will see cost reduced around some of the most essential services that they need to take care of their basic responsibilities,’ Harris argued.
The vice president was also asked by a French journalist to compare the migrant crisis coming from Belarus to the southern border of the United States.
Harris demurred and spoke more generally of the crisis.
‘We are very concerned about that,’ she said. ‘The eyes of the world and its leaders are watching what is happening there.’