Manchin on inflation: Congress shouldn’t add fuel to economy on fire

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sounded the alarm on Thursday after the Labor Department announced that annual inflation had risen at its fastest rate in four decades, emphasizing that Congress should not add “more fuel to an economy already on fire.”

Manchin was likely alluding to the push by Democrats to pass a roughly $2 trillion social spending and climate package, an effort he effectively killed in December after announcing that he would not support the behemoth legislation, citing concerns about inflation and the cost of the bill.

In an emailed statement, Manchin said inflation is “draining the hard-earned wages of every American” and “causing real and severe economic pain that can no longer be ignored.”

“It’s beyond time for the Federal Reserve to tackle this issue head on, and Congress and the Administration must proceed with caution before adding more fuel to an economy already on fire,” he added.

Consumer prices increased 7.5 percent annually in the year ending in January, according to the Labor Department, marking the fastest rate since February 1982.

It was the sixth consecutive month that the consumer price index, which tracks inflation, rose on an annual basis.

In January alone, consumer prices increased by 0.6 percent, which was the same speed as December. In the previous three months, however, the rate had dropped.

Manchin on Thursday said “the threat of inflation is real” and urged the U.S. to “get serious about the finances of our country.”

“It’s time we start acting like stewards of our economy and the money the American people entrust their government with. Now, more than ever, we must remember it is not our money, it’s the American people’s money. It is not our economy, it’s their economy,” Manchin wrote.

“We all have a [responsibility] to do all that is possible to roll back inflation and manage our debts because the longer we or the Federal Reserve waits to act, the more economic pain will be caused,” he added.

The U.S. has grappled with elevated inflation levels since the middle of 2021, when the country began rebounding from losses suffered amid the coronavirus pandemic. That recovery, however, drove prices to levels not seen in decades as high demand coincided with low supply, labor shortages, shipping bottlenecks and other issues posed by the pandemic.

Manchin in December, after announcing that he would not support his party’s spending package, wrote in a statement that his concerns with the bill “have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world.”

Democrats are now considering breaking the package, called the Build Back Better Act, into smaller pieces as a way to salvage some of its initiatives.

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