Several top Biden administration officials argued on Nov. 14 that the White House-backed social spending package may be a solution to soaring inflation in the United States, though some Democrats have balked at the idea.
“Inflation is high right now, and it is affecting consumers in their pocketbook and also in their outlook for the economy. But those concerns underscore why it’s so important that we move forward on the Build Back Better legislation,” White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told CNN in an interview. “This, more than anything, will go at the cost that Americans face.”
Several days ago, the Department of Labor released its monthly consumer price index report, showing that inflation had reached a 30-year high. Grocery prices in October were 5.4 percent higher than a year ago, the data shows. Overall inflation was 6.2 percent year-over-year.
Deese claims the bill would drive down drug prices, lower the costs of child care, and also reduce costs associated with homeownership. In the past 20 months or so, Congress has approved trillions of dollars in stimulus packages, including the $2.2 trillion CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, in a bid to offset economic troubles associated with CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus-related lockdowns, social distancing policies, and stay-at-home orders.
“This will lower prescription drug prices, put a cap on prescription drug costs for our seniors. Child care [is] not only a big cost driver for families, but a big impediment for more parents and women to get back into the workforce,” he said, adding that the House of Representatives will consider the bill this week.
In similar remarks to CBS on Nov. 14, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen blamed the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, for America’s economic woes, adding that the social spending bill would aid recovery.
“There’s money in this package also to improve home health care for elderly citizens who have health issues,” she told the outlet. “And for those who are disabled. And again, that’s support that will make it easier for people to work and care for family members at the same time.”
However, contrary to the Biden administration officials’ comments about a reduction in inflation, Moody’s Analytics said that the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, combined with the approximately $1.75 trillion social and climate spending package, would add 0.3 percentage points to inflation, on average, between 2022 and 2024.
Republicans, meanwhile, have seized on the soaring inflation numbers, often referring to the current trend as “Bidenflation” and pointed to Biden’s economic policies such as shutting down construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, not approving new oil or gas leases, and not dealing with outstanding supply chain bottlenecks.
“This inflation is real, it is not transitory. It’s big and it’s because of the Biden Administration’s terrible economic policies,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R.-N.D.) wrote late last week.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has become a leading opponent of the social spending bill in its current form. Previously, he balked at the original price tag of $3.5 trillion and recently called on members of his party to take a more cautious approach in trying to pass the slimmed-down version of the measure.
Manchin on Nov. 10 reiterated his concerns about rising inflation and rejected the Federal Reserve’s and Treasury Department’s claims that higher inflation would be merely a “transitory” phenomenon.
“By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not ‘transitory’ and is instead getting worse,” the West Virginia senator wrote on Twitter. “From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day.”