Manchin on inflation: Biden administration ‘failed to act fast enough’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blamed the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve for rising inflation on Tuesday after Labor Department data found that inflation had increased by 8.5 percent over the past 12 months. 

“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,” Manchin said in a statement. 

“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. The American people deserve the truth about why record inflation is happening and what must be done to control it,” he added.

The Labor Department said on Tuesday that its consumer price index, which tracks inflation, increased by 1.2 percent in March and 8.5 percent over the past 12 months. 

Manchin called the data a “chilling story about how these taxes on Americans are completely out of control,” and one that is eating away at incomes and savings.

Food prices rose 8.8 percent over the past 12 months and 1 percent in March alone, while gasoline prices were up 48 percent on the year after an 18.3 percent increase in March, according to the Labor Department data. 

The Labor Department figures are bad news for Democrats and Biden ahead of this fall’s midterm elections. Republicans have seized on rising prices to argue for a change in leadership.

Manchin has been raising concerns about inflation for months, but his remarks may be used by the GOP in attacks on Democrats.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the top Republican on the Budget Committee, said that “if you want inflation to go down, Americans will have to change leadership.” 

“If the Biden administration truly wants to find the cause of record high inflation, all they have to do is look in the mirror. These dramatic, record-setting increases in inflation weren’t caused by Vladimir Putin, but by the bad choices of President Biden and the Democrats who control Congress,” he said. 

Manchin’s statement is also another red flag for nascent Democratic hopes of reviving a sweeping social and climate spending bill heading toward the summer by paring it down to something that the White House and Senate Democrats hope their red-state colleagues could support. 

Though inflation was already increasing, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped fuel an increase in prices on a range of items and services including food, gasoline and shelter. But the March data also found prices increasing broadly and in areas relatively insulated from the war.

The White House has blamed the increased cost, particularly on gasoline and energy prices, on Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it “Putin’s price hike.” 

Manchin has long pointed to inflation as one of his primary concerns about passing a larger Build Back Better package.

“We cannot spend our way to a balanced, healthy economy and continue adding to our $30 trillion national debt,” Manchin said Tuesday.

“Getting inflation under control will require more aggressive action by a Federal Reserve that waited too long to act. It demands the Administration and Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, support an all-the-above energy policy because that is the only way to bring down the high price of gas and energy while attacking climate change,” he said. 

Sylvan Lane contributed 

Tags 2022 midterm elections Federal Reseve Inflation Joe Biden Joe Manchin Joe Manchin Lindsey Graham Vladimir Putin West Virginia

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