Fed Reserve chair Jerome Powell inadvertently refutes Biden on inflation blame game

Testifying before a Senate committee on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell unintentionally helped Republicans fact-check President Joe Biden’s oft-repeated lie that the current spate of endless inflation is the fault of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He specifically helped Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty, who at one point during the hearing remarked that inflation had been rising long before the war in Ukraine erupted.

“I realize there are a number of factors that play a role in those historic inflation that we’re experiencing — supply chain disruptions, regulations that constrain supply, we’ve got rising inflation expectations and excessive fiscal spending — but the problem hasn’t sprung out of nowhere,” the Republican lawmaker said.

“In January of 2021, inflation was at 1.4 percent. By December of 2021, it had risen to 7 percent — a fivefold increase. Now, since the war in Ukraine began in late February, the rate of inflation has risen incrementally another 1.6 percent to a current level of 8.6 percent. So again, from 7 percent to 8.6 percent.”

The senator then asked Powell, “Given how inflation has escalated over the past 18 months, would you say that the war in Ukraine is the primary driver of inflation in America?”

No, inflation was high before — certainly before the war in Ukraine broke out,” Powell replied, unintentionally completing the fact-check.

Not that the president cared. He went on to repeat the lie at least twice on Wednesday:

And indeed, in responding to Powell’s admission, Hagerty said, “I’m glad to hear you say that. The Biden administration seems to be intent on deflecting blame and as recently as just this past Sunday spread the misinformation that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the ‘biggest single driver of inflation.’ I’m glad you agree with me that that is not the truth.”

In fact, the majority of Americans — including even the majority of Democrat voters — agree with Hagerty, according to recent polling data.

“June’s edition of I&I/TIPP’s monthly survey found that a majority of Democrats, 53 percent, believe Biden’s policies are to blame for inflation, while 39 percent said that they weren’t to blame,” Newsweek reported on Tuesday.

Overall, 64 percent of the 1,310 Americans who participated in the poll “believed Biden’s policies were either ‘responsible’ or ‘very responsible’ for the rising prices.”

According to a separate poll by Rasmussen Reports, a vast 91 percent majority of Americans are “concerned” about inflation, while an even larger 92 percent are “concerned” about gas prices.

All this bodes extremely badly for Democrats going into the 2020 midterm elections, especially as it appears prices will keep rising in the near and possibly far away future.

The president for his part is trying to reduce gas prices by encouraging Congress to suspend the gas tax for three months. But critics note that the plan means gas prices would spike again right before the midterm elections, thus further dooming Democrats.

Plus, critics say, a temporary suspension of the gas tax would be a mere Band-Aid to a self-created crisis that requires much deeper intervention — intervention that this administration is doing everything in its power to avoid.

Specifically, the administration needs to stop its war on gas and oil. It needs to approve pipelines, roll back burdensome oil/gas regulations, and work with oil/gas companies instead of constantly attacking them.

But the president refuses to take any meaningful steps, even the ones that have been written out clearly for him to follow.

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Vivek Saxena

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