President Joe Biden said Thursday he sees signs of relief on the horizon for U.S. consumers, after a government report showed inflation staying at a 40-year high.
“According to Nobel laureates, 14 of them that contacted me, and a number of corporate leaders, it ought to be able to start to taper off as we go through this year,” the president told NBC’s Lester Holt.
In January, the U.S. rate of inflation climbed again to 7.5%, marking the biggest 12-month surge in the cost of living since February 1982. The strong data reported Thursday has set off what looks like a chain reaction of upward revisions to where the Federal Reserve is headed, as MarketWatch reports, with Fed watchers talking seriously about an emergency interest rate hike before the central bank’s next formal meeting on March 16.
Holt reminded Biden that in July, he’d said that price increases would be temporary — but have instead continued.
“You’re being a wise guy with me a little bit,” said Biden. “And I understand, that’s your job,” the president said, before listing cut-off supply chains as one reason for inflation.
With midterm elections approaching in November, Biden and congressional Democrats are under enormous pressure to perform on the economy and the pandemic. Thursday’s hotter-than-expected reading on inflation, meanwhile, prompted pivotal West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to double down on concerns about spending. Manchin’s hesitancy has thrown up a roadblock to Biden’s so-called Build Back Better initiative — though analysts have said a smaller package of climate and social spending is possible.
Biden’s comments to Holt echoed what the president said in a statement after Thursday’s report.
“While today is a reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched in ways that create real stress at the kitchen table, there are also signs that we will make it through this challenge,” he said. “While today’s report is elevated, forecasters continue to project inflation easing substantially by the end of 2022.”
Now read: Has inflation peaked? Don’t bet on it
MarketWatch’s Greg Robb contributed to this story.