Amid Record Inflation, Biden Shifts Blame Elsewhere

By Hannah Ng
Hannah Ng
Hannah Ng
Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master's degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.
April 14, 2022Updated: April 15, 2022

President Joe Biden said on April 12 that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been the cause for the 40-year-high inflation rate of 8.5percent. In Iowa, Biden referred to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the same day and said, “70 percent of the increase in prices in March came from Putin’s price hike in gasoline.”

A day later, the Biden administration furthered its blame game with press secretary Jen Psaki claiming that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s inspection of trucks entering the United States from Mexico also played a role in the price uptick.

“Governor Abbott’s unnecessary and redundant inspections of trucks transiting ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are causing significant disruptions to the food and automobile supply chains, delaying manufacturing, impacting jobs, and raising prices for families in Texas and across the country,” Psaki said.

The White House statements came in the aftermath of the BLS data which showed gas prices were up 18.3 percent in March after jumping 6.6 percent in February. Consumer prices had risen by 8.5 percent in March from a year earlier—the largest 12-month increase since December 1981.

The new data showed that price increases for gasoline, shelter, and food were the largest contributors to inflation. Excluding volatile food and gas prices, the consumer price index still rose 6.5 percent year-on-year.

Experts Say Differently

The Biden administration’s comments are at odds with some economic analysts.

Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust, attributed the record price surge to “massive” government stimulus, and unusually accommodative monetary policy from the U.S. central bank, as well as COVID-19-induced spending on goods and supply chain problems.

“Inflation is incredibly challenging to predict,” he told The Epoch Times. “We have departed from any normal course that we’ve seen in history.”

“I think it’s going to keep moving up until interest rates go higher,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, specifically pointed to the Fed.

“The Fed is behind the curve on inflation and the labor market is extremely tight,” Sweet told The New York Post. “Therefore, tightening monetary policy to tame inflation without causing the unemployment rate to increase will be extremely difficult.”

Apart from those causes, others have said that Biden’s killing of the Keystone XL pipeline has contributed to the soaring oil prices.

“This contributes to a lack of supply, and therefore much higher prices. Right now, we’re all over the place with policies that are driving up infrastructure pressures rather than help deflate them,” Vance Ginn, chief economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation who served as associate director for economic policy at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget from 2019 to 2020, told The Epoch Times.

Lawmakers Push Back

The Biden administration’s deflection of blame has sparked criticism from lawmakers across party lines.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) said in a statement following the release of Tuesday’s consumer price figures: “The Federal Reserve and the Administration failed to act fast enough, and today’s data is a snapshot in time of the consequences being felt across the country. Instead of acting boldly, our elected leaders and the Federal Reserve continue to respond with half-measures and rhetorical failures searching for where to lay the blame.”

“Here is the truth,” he added, “we cannot spend our way to a balanced, healthy economy and continue adding to our $30 trillion national debt.”

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) also weighed in.

“President Biden keeps trying to pass the buck when it comes to the inflation disaster his reckless policies have caused,” he wrote on Twitter on April 14.

“But the fact of the matter is that Joe Biden is single-handedly responsible for the inflation tax that is hammering everyday Americans,” he added.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called for Biden to take responsibility for the raging inflation crisis.

“As long as Joe Biden is in office, families will continue to suffer, debt will keep climbing and prices will skyrocket even higher,” Scott said in an April 13 statement.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.