Inflation remains at the highest levels in 40 years as the Biden administration admits some culpability
Prices of consumer goods continue to soar across America, the latest official print of the Consumer Price Index confirmed on Wednesday, showing price growth at 8.3% over the last 12 months as of April. This marks the eleventh straight month of inflation registering over 5% and exceeds the 8.1% expected by economists polled by Dow Jones, cited by CNBC.
The sharpest cost increases came in the categories of shelter, food, airline fares, and new vehicles, and while the index for energy declined, the American Automobile Association revealed on Tuesday that the price of gasoline had hit record highs.
Making matters worse, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that average hourly earnings for workers declined 2.6%, if adjusted for seasonal factors and inflation, since last April. With inflation at its highest rate in 40 years on top of so many other benchmarks presaging economic turbulence and no clear solutions emerging from the White House, Americans are reporting higher rates of financial anxiety than in previous years.
While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) have categorically refused to shoulder any of the blame for the price spikes that have Americans more worried about their finances than they have been in years, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tentatively acknowledged on Tuesday that the generous stimulus spending by the administration of President Joe Biden might have helped unleash the steep inflation currently gripping the US.
Asked by CNN anchor Don Lemon whether the Covid-19 stimulus payments, particularly the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, contributed to inflation “as economists say,” Buttigieg acknowledged that historians and economists would be “debating the early 2020s and what happened for many decades” before circling back to the administration’s standard line of blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the increase in energy costs. Despite the transportation secretary’s lamenting what he framed as the US’ dependence on “foreign dictators and the fuel they produce,” however, Washington had sourced less than 8% of its oil and gas from Russia prior to imposing an embargo on it in March.
Biden has met most inquiries about the cause of inflation and high gas prices over the past two months with some sort of reference to “Putin’s price hike,” though the Department of Labor stats reveal that prices of consumer goods were climbing long before the Donbass republics declared their independence in February. Similarly, a growing portion of Americans have for close to a year been pointing the finger at “Bare Shelves Biden” over their burgeoning grocery bills. The president’s approval ratings have been plummeting, as has confidence in his ability to do what’s best for the US economy.
Biden himself revised his usual apportioning of blame for the skyrocketing cost of living on Tuesday, adding Covid-19 and “ultra-MAGA” Republicans to the list of culprits for the country’s economic woes, while admitting that “families all across America are hurting” due to the economic situation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the accusations that Russia is to blame for the global economic turmoil in March, saying it was actually a result of “years of mistakes and short-sighted decisions” by Western leaders chasing “super profits.”
“I want ordinary Western people to hear me as well. You are being persistently told that your current difficulties are the result of Russia’s hostile actions and that you have to pay from your own pockets for the efforts to counter the alleged Russian threat. All of that is a lie,” he added.
A poll published earlier this week revealed that more than half of Americans believe that the sanctions placed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine have hurt the US more than Moscow.