OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin continues to be a thorn in the side of President Joe Biden and now it is on the topic of inflation.
On Tuesday, the senator said that the federal government needs to stop looking for someone to blame and cut spending.
“Let me be clear, inflation is a tax, and today’s historic inflation data tells another chilling story about how these taxes on Americans are completely out of control. Hard-earned wages and financial savings are disappearing faster every month as prices continue to climb, while the pain and frustration of spending more on everyday items linger over us all, especially among those who can afford it the least. Americans are seeing some of the largest increases in goods such as gas up 48%, beef up 16%, chicken and milk up 13%, and staples like coffee and eggs are up 11%,” the senator said in a press release.
“When will this end? It is a disservice to the American people to act as if inflation is a new phenomenon. 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. The American people deserve the truth about why record inflation is happening and what must be done to control it,” he said.
“Here is the truth, we cannot spend our way to a balanced, healthy economy and continue adding to our $30 trillion national debt. 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. The United States of America is equipped to be energy independent from Russia and other terror-sponsoring countries while also working to fight global climate change and break our dependence on the critical mineral supply change from China,” the senator said.
“The inflation number today is only the beginning unless we take immediate action to address the pain being felt across our nation. This is one problem facing the American people that one political party alone cannot fix. The American people cannot wait any longer,” he said.
My statement on consumer inflation rising to 8.5%, the largest 12 month increase in four decades: pic.twitter.com/qlKlDVU2Vu
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) April 12, 2022
Inflation reached 8.5 percent in March, the highest it has been since 1981, The New York Post reported.
The alarming inflation data surfaced as the Federal Reserve ramps up its efforts to return to normal market conditions following extraordinary measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fed enacted its first interest rate hike in three years last month and is expected to raise its benchmark rate several more times throughout the year — with some experts suggesting the next increase could be larger than the quarter-percentage-point hike enacted in March.
The average US household spent an extra $327 in March due to inflation, according to calculations by Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. That’s up from roughly $297 per household in February when the Consumer Price Index jumped 7.9%.
“The Fed is behind the curve on inflation and the labor market is extremely tight,” he said. “Therefore, tightening monetary policy to tame inflation without causing the unemployment rate to increase will be extremely difficult.”
This week White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki blamed the rise in inflation on Russian President Vladimir Putin, even as inflation was on the rise prior to the war in Ukraine.
“We expect March CPI headline inflation to be extraordinarily elevated due to Putin’s price hike, and we expect a large difference between core and headline inflation reflecting the global disruptions in energy and food markets,” she said.