Sen. Joe Manchin III on Tuesday expressed skepticism about arguments that President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar social welfare bill was a cure for inflation.
Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, said the effort by White House officials to redefine the bill as a means to combat soaring prices needed further vetting.
“They say it’s going to lower inflation,” he said. “I’ll have to check on that one.”
Mr. Manchin added that voter angst over inflation was real and something that he faced in person during last week’s congressional recess.
“A gallon of milk is now $4 in many places. It’s taking a toll,” he said. “I hear it when I go to the grocery store or if I go to the gas station. They say, ‘Are you as mad as I am?’ and I say, ‘Absolutely.’”
The Department of Labor released a report last week indicating that inflation has reached a 30-year high. Federal data shows that the price of common goods and services increased by more than double digits over the past year.
The fallout has left White House officials scrambling to respond after downplaying inflation for months. Part of their strategy is to repackage the administration’s social welfare bill as a way to fight inflation.
Brian Deese, chairman of the White House‘s national economic council, made that argument during a CNN appearance over the weekend.
“Inflation is high right now, and it is affecting consumers in their pocketbook and also in their outlook for the economy,” said Mr. Deese. “But those concerns underscore why it’s so important that we move forward on the Build Back Better legislation.”
White House officials are eager to portray the package’s more controversial provisions, including Medicare drug pricing and tax hikes, as a cure for inflation.
“This, more than anything, will go at the cost that Americans face,” Mr. Deese said. “This will lower prescription drug prices … cut the cost of childcare by more than half for most working families.”
A new analysis by the left-leaning Tax Policy Center found that the tax increases proposed by House Democrats would hit about 30% of lower- and middle-class households starting in 2022 if the social welfare and climate bill becomes law.