As inflation continues to plague Americans, White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese admitted Friday that rising prices of goods are “absolutely an issue.”
During an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Deese was pressed by host Joe Kernan about whether President Biden is getting the right advice concerning the economy. Kernan cited Sen. Joe Manchin’s concerns that additional government spending could cause inflation to worsen.
Deese insisted that Manchin “is a close partner,” despite the West Virginia Democrat insisting this month that no negotiations are taking between him and the White House since he announced his opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better Act last month.
“What we’re advising [Biden], and what the president thinks, is that the price increases right now are absolutely an issue, absolutely an issue,” Deese admitted. “They’re affecting families where they are, but they’re also affecting sentiment and the outlook, which is why our focus is on what we can do concretely to bring down those costs in the context of, the Federal Reserve is moving and operating independently.”
Deese added that investments in the Build Back Better agenda would contribute to economic growth so long as the spending is paid for.
In announcing his opposition to the $2 trillion spending legislation, Manchin cited inflation as well as “budget gimmicks” that could potentially add billions to the federal deficit if some of the proposals were made permanent.
Deese’s comments came only two days after Biden expressed optimism that his administration was “making progress” on rising prices, despite recent data showing a 7 percent increase in consumer prices for the 12 months ending in December – the highest increase since 1982.
“Today’s report—which shows a meaningful reduction in headline inflation over last month, with gas prices and food prices falling—demonstrates that we are making progress in slowing the rate of price increases,” the president said in a statement Wednesday.
While Biden claimed food prices were falling, however, new Consumer Price Index data shows that food prices increased by .5 percent from November to December and a total 6.3 percent over the previous 12 months.
Biden did admit in his statement that the recent data indicates there is still “more work to do.”
“Inflation is a global challenge, appearing in virtually every developed nation as it emerges from the pandemic economic slump,” he said. “America is fortunate that we have one of the fastest-growing economies—thanks in part to the American Rescue Plan—which enables us to address price increases and maintain strong, sustainable economic growth.”
The White House has continuously attempted to downplay recent inflation rates while highlighting minute drops in prices. Last fall, the administration largely blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain backlogs as the main catalyst for the price spikes.