The White House on Wednesday was forced to contend with a new report showing a jump in inflation on a range of consumer goods used by ordinary Americans – while Sen. Joe Manchin warned inflation was ‘getting worse’ at a time when President Joe Biden needs his vote on a key social spending bill.
Biden said in a statement Wednesday morning that ‘inflation hurts’ as he blamed a sharp increase in October compared to last year on an increase in the cost of energy.
The president made the statement amid a new government figure revealing a 6.2 percent jump in the Consumer Price Index in October compared to a year ago.
The president’s comments came as Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said inflation was ‘getting worse.’
‘By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not “transitory” and is instead getting worse. From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real andcan no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day,’ Manchin said.
‘Inflation hurts Americans pocketbooks, and reversing this trend is a top priority for me,’ President Joe Biden said in a statement after the consumer price index for October rose 6.2 percent compared to a year ago
The White House needs Manchin’s support for Biden’s $1.75 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ plan. Manchin has repeatedly raised concerns about its overall cost and the size of the national debt, although lawmakers are waiting to hear from congressional scorekepers on the overall long-term price tag.
Manchin is currently promoting the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the House passed early Saturday. Manchin on Twitter called it a ‘historic investment in West Virginia’s infrastructure.’
With his public approval rating down and a recent Democratic electoral loss in the Virginia governor’s race, Biden called combating inflation a ‘top priority.’
‘On inflation, today’s report shows an increase over last month,’ Biden said.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said inflation was ‘getting worse’
‘Inflation hurts Americans pocketbooks, and reversing this trend is a top priority for me. The largest share of the increase in prices in this report is due to rising energy costs—and in the few days since the data for this report were collected, the price of natural gas has fallen,’ Biden said – although prices are also up for food, furniture, used cars, and other goods.
He said he had directed his National Economic Council to ‘pursue means to try to further reduce these costs, and have asked the Federal Trade Commission to strike back at any market manipulation or price gouging in this sector.’
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
Consumers are feeling the squeeze everywhere in America, from gas stations to the supermarket
US jobless claims drop to pandemic low of 267,000 – but there are still 10M openings across the nation to fill
Wednesday’s Consumer Price Index report comes as the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a new pandemic low of 267,000 last week.
Jobless claims fell by 4,000 last week, the Labor Department reported on Wednesday, and the four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly ups and downs, dropped by nearly 7,300 to 278,000, also a pandemic low.
Applications for unemployment aid have been falling mostly steadily since topping 900,000 in early January and are gradually nearing pre-pandemic levels of around 220,000 a week. Claims, a proxy for layoffs, have now dropped for six straight weeks.
There were 2.2 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits the week that ended October 30.
Still, companies throughout the country are reporting a labor shortage, with 10 million jobs to fill.
Businesses have now passed the cost of a reduced work staff onto the consumers.
Biden is traveling to the Port of Baltimore Wednesday, ‘to highlight how my Infrastructure Bill will bring down these costs, reduce these bottlenecks, and make goods more available and less costly,’ he said.
Biden also cheered a drop in unemployment claims, which have experienced a decline for six consecutive weeks.
He also praised his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan – and putting his social spending program in the context of inflation.
‘Nobel Prize winners in economics have said that my plan will “ease inflationary pressures,”‘ he said.
Ashave pointed out, the letter in fact said his plan would ease ‘long-term inflationary pressures’ – not necessary the immediate spike Biden is battling. The economics backed his agenda when the plan, then at $3.5 trillion, included a number of tax hikes that have fallen away amid opposition from centrist Democrats in the Senate.
‘Because this agenda invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer-term inflationary pressures,’ they wrote.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and others have predicted the inflationary spike would be ‘transitory’ in nature. But it is already beginning to register a major political concern in opinion polls.
Biden called it ‘important’ that Congress pass his Build Back Better plan, ‘which is fully paid for and does not add to the debt, and will get more Americans working.’
Manchin’s new statement about inflation follows prior warnings he made last week, and wasn’t lost on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose team out a statement pointing to Manchin’s comments, adding his own concerns about inflation.
Manchin said last week, when asked about the Build Back Better plan: ‘Nor will I support a package that risks hurting American families suffering from historic inflation.’ He added: ‘I, for one, also won’t support a multitrillion-dollar bill without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation.’
‘Senator Manchin might be onto something,’ said McConnell aide Doug Andres.
McConnell, in comments to WKYX-Paducah radio in Kentucky, pointed to Manchin and Sen. Kysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) as ‘resisting’ the package.
‘They could kill the whole thing, either one of them,’ he said.
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