The White House Tuesday declined to say President Biden’s policies are responsible for the high inflation that has materialized under his watch.
The comments were made by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre after the White House last year predicted inflation would be transitory. Now, Americans face some of the highest inflation in 40 years.
“His policies have helped the economy get back on its feet. That’s what his policy has, his policies have done,” Jean-Pierre said in response to a question from Fox News’ Peter Doocy about whether Biden takes any responsibility for inflation. “When we talk about gas prices right now, this is indeed Putin’s gas hike… We have seen about 60% increase in the past several months because of the amassing and his invasion of Ukraine.”
Deese argued that an expected move by the president to forgive student loan debt would make a “quite small” contribution to inflation.
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Jean-Pierre also touted economic growth since Biden assumed office at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and said Biden is “frustrated about… what the American people have to go through” with inflation.
The press secretary’s comments come as Republicans aggressively attack Biden for the historically high inflation voters are facing. They say the $ 1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” stimulus plan Biden signed into law last year is significantly contributing to the inflation rate.
Republicans and many economic analysts also say if the president forgives student loan debt, as he’s rumored to be planning to do, that will further feed inflation. Deese pushed back against that argument Tuesday.
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“The economic impact of any proposal would be across the course of years or a couple of decades,” Deese told reporters at the White House press briefing Tuesday. “And so the impact on inflation in the near term is likely to be quite small.”
Deese added: “Because the president has not made a decision, and we are not talking about a specific plan, I will not speculate specifically, but I think most of the analysis suggests that the near-term impact would be pretty small . “
Deese also declined to confirm reports that Biden plans to cancel up to $ 10,000 in student debt per borrower, saying Biden “has not made any decision on that policy.” He also said that the people who have student debt are “struggling economically.”
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But experts, including Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget President Maya MacGuineas, say forgiving student loan debt would inject a massive amount of money into the economy, while saddling taxpayers with the bill.
“Full debt cancellation would be a massive hand-out to rich doctors and lawyers, would worsen our inflation crisis, and would cost almost as much as the entire 2017 tax cuts,” MacGuineas said last month.
“Even partial debt cancellation would be costly, regressive, and inflationary,” she continued. “Forgiving $ 10,000 per person of debt would cost as much as universal pre-K or a full extension of the expanded ACA subsidies.”
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Meanwhile, Biden released on op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday laying out a plan to fight inflation, including respecting the Fed’s independence, reforming the tax code and passing legislation to address the housing shortage.
FOX Business’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.