President Biden on Friday admitted that Americans are getting “clobbered” by inflation that has skyrocketed under his administration, but he seemed unfamiliar with the specifics — saying that hamburgers are “four times” more expensive.
“Average people are getting clobbered by the cost of everything today,” Biden said at the White House. “Gas prices at the pump are up. We are working to bring them down, but they’re up. Food prices are up. We’re gonna bring them down as well.
“Look, hamburger is, you know, up four times, four-fold almost many places,” Biden said.
Inflation hit a 40-year high in December, with the cost of goods and services jumping 7 percent from one year prior.
Although the price of ground beef indeed soared, as of December it increased 13 percent from one year prior, according to the federal Consumer Price Index — not 400 percent as Biden described.
In response to higher costs, fast-food burger makers also increased prices for customers. McDonald’s said it increased menu prices by about 6 percent last year.
Biden previously invoked the cost of beef to demonstrate his grasp of the impact of inflation.
Last month, Biden said that a friend of his sister-in-law informed him of high ground beef prices during one of his frequent visits to his Wilmington, Del., home. “She was saying, ‘Do you realize it’s over $5 for a pound of hamburger meat? $5?’” he said, accurately describing the cost.
Biden acknowledged the impact of inflation while touting a surprisingly strong jobs report that showed the US added 467,000 jobs in January despite a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant.
Biden blamed inflation on supply chain woes and the fact that “a few giant companies” control certain industries such as meat processing.
He also launched into a renewed pitch for his stalled $2 trillion Build Back Better Act, which would subsidize child care and home health care, despite the fact that centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) this week reaffirmed the legislation is “dead” because he doesn’t support it in the evenly divided Senate.
“Nobody earning less than $400,000 a year would pay a single additional penny in taxes on a single penny,” Biden said, dusting off his pitch for the massive environmental and social spending bill. “A lot of companies I’ve spoke to are willing to pay a little more in their corporate taxes and their personal taxes to see that happen.”
Republicans — and even some Democratic economists — blame Biden for the spike in inflation.
Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, passed without GOP support and signed in March, spent $1.9 trillion without new revenue. The bill gave $1,400 stimulus checks to people who earned up to $75,000 per year, extended a $300 weekly unemployment supplement through Sept. 6 and expanded the annual child tax credit to $3,000 to $3,600 per child, up from $2,000.
Biden’s stimulus followed bipartisan legislation in 2020 that distributed about $4 trillion to keep the US afloat during the pandemic. Biden signed in November a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Congressional Budget Office said would add $256 billion in deficit spending over 10 years.
“Economists said this inflation is exactly what would happen if Democrats pushed ahead with their reckless spending sprees the economy did not need,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a Tuesday speech.
“Larry Summers, who was treasury secretary for President [Bill] Clinton and ran the National Economic Council for President [Barack] Obama, warned Democrats a year ago this week that Democrats’ far-left plans could trigger ‘inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation,’” McConnell said.
“Jason Furman, who chaired President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the same thing. He said the Democrats’ spending binge was ‘definitely too big for the moment … I don’t know any economist that was recommending something the size of what was done.’”
McConnell added, “Even the liberal expert Steven Rattner, another former Obama official, says this spending spree was Democrats’ ‘original sin’ when it comes to inflation.”
Biden administration officials last year called high inflation “transitory.” But Biden on at least one occasion acknowledged the possible impact of generous social spending.
“The irony is people have more money now because of the first major piece of legislation I passed. You all got checks for $1,400. You got checks for a whole range of things,” Biden said in a November speech. “It changes people’s lives. But what happens if there’s nothing to buy and you got more money to compete for getting [goods]? It creates a real problem.”