Sen. Joe Manchin III blamed President Biden on Tuesday for skyrocketing inflation, saying the White House failed to take rising prices seriously for months.
Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, argued that both the White House and the Federal Reserve system were responsible for inflation having soared 8.5% over the past 12 months.
“The Federal Reserve and the administration failed to act fast enough,” said Mr. Manchin. “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.”
Arguing that inflation is a problem that “one political party alone cannot fix,” Mr. Manchin called on the Federal Reserve and Congress to “take immediate action to address the pain being felt across our nation.”
“Getting inflation under control will require more aggressive action by a Federal Reserve that waited too long to act,” he said. “It demands the [Biden] 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.”
Mr. Manchin‘s rebuke of the White House came shortly after the Labor Department announced inflation has spiked 8.5% in the past year.
Gasoline prices jumped 48%, while food prices increased 8%. Over the last year, housing costs rose 5% on top of a 13% increase in electricity and home-heating prices.
White House officials sought to downplay the significance of the inflation report earlier this week, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine had upended the global economy and driven up energy prices.
“Because of the actions we’ve taken to address the Putin price hike, we are in a better place than we were last month,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “But we expect March [inflation numbers] to be extraordinarily elevated, due to Putin’s price hike.”
Mr. Manchin took issue with the White House‘s attempts to portray inflation as a “new phenomenon,” saying it was a disservice to the American people. He also signaled that Mr. Biden‘s big spending and climate-change policies were likely a factor in exacerbating inflation.
“The American people deserve the truth about why record inflation is happening and what must be done to control it,” said the West Virginia Democrat. “Here is the truth, we cannot spend our way to a balanced, healthy economy and continue adding to our $30 trillion national debt.”
For months, Republicans have argued that Mr. Biden‘s policies are responsible for driving up inflation. Even though a recent CBS/YouGov poll indicates that 69% of Americans disapprove of the way Mr. Biden is handling the inflation, most Democrats have shielded Mr. Biden from blame until now.
Mr. Manchin‘s willingness to criticize the White House likely dooms efforts to restart negotiation on Mr. Biden‘s long-stalled $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change package. Last year, Mr. Manchin single-handedly derailed the process by refusing to acquiesce over concerns the legislation would worsen inflation.
Given solid GOP opposition, the only hope for passage of the package is using a party-line procedure known as budget reconciliation.