WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Monday that “no serious economist” is suggesting price increases could spiral out of control, as he sought to reassure Americans that the current spikes are temporary.
But some nonpartisan economic experts say they see cause for concern that inflation will continue to climb at a steep pace, a dynamic that could complicate Biden’s multi-trillion dollar policy agenda.
“A lot of reasonable people think inflation is going to be higher than we thought it was,” said Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an independent Washington research group.
The cost of living, as measured by the government’s Consumer Price Index, went up 5.4% over the course of the last year ending in June, its biggest annual increase in nearly 13 years.
The Biden administration has insisted that rising prices will not persist, arguing increased demand tied to the lifting of coronavirus restrictions and related supply problems are not expected to continue.
The White House has also rejected arguments that COVID-related benefits the president has championed — including stimulus checks, tax credits and enhanced unemployment benefits — are driving up the cost of food, gas, clothing and other common household items.
Biden wants to expand and extend benefits such as the child tax credit in a proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan aimed at helping lower- and middle-class families that he’s trying to push through Congress.
In a speech focused on the economy Monday, Biden said his administration “understands that if we were to ever experience unchecked inflation over the long term, that would pose real challenges to our economy.”
“So while we’re confident that isn’t what we are seeing today, we’re going to remain vigilant about any response that is needed,” he added.
Asked later at the event what would make him consider government action to address the price spikes, Biden told reporters, “There’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way — no serious economist. That’s totally different.”