Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
The rise in inflation has become so sustained in the United States that Thursday’s release of the Consumer Price Index’s February data was almost a side note in a story that has morphed from whether inflation is a short- or long-term problem, to assigning blame for the calamity that has beset Americans for more than a year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation swole by 0.8% in February, with the cost of fuel leaping by 6.6% and the cost of food increasing by 1.0%.
Overall, the CPI has risen 7.9% since February 2021, the largest growth since 1982.
“The Administration’s reckless spending and misguided energy policies have led to record-breaking inflation,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Finance, tweeted. “While Russian aggression and necessary responses are sure to push prices even higher, skyrocketing inflation has been more than a year in the making.”
The Administration’s reckless spending and misguided energy policies have led to record-breaking inflation. While Russian aggression and necessary responses are sure to push prices even higher, skyrocketing inflation has been more than a year in the making. pic.twitter.com/ZtjswHKHxt
— Senator Mike Crapo (@MikeCrapo) March 10, 2022
Even though inflation has been on a profound incline since January 2021, the Biden administration is pinning its hopes on Americans being willing to accept that Russia is to blame, or at least that a skyrocketing cost of living is a moral necessity.
“[A] large driver of these inflationary numbers … these monthly numbers were from energy prices,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Thursday press briefing. “And we have seen … the increase, you know, happen as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“So, while we’re looking at year over year — and there were year-over-year numbers that came out about a month ago as well — there are still predictions and projections from the Federal Reserve and outside economists about inflation moderating towards the end of the year.”
Psaki’s last statement will likely ring hollow with most observers as the Biden administration and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have long assured Americans that inflation hikes were temporary while seeking to blame inflation on any factor not labeled “Democrat policy.”
Little more than three months ago, the culprit was to have been the Omicron variant, a claim FISM CEO and President Dan Celia debunked at the time.
The villain for now and into the foreseeable future is Russia. The West has issued tough sanctions on the country in hopes of crippling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to afford waging a war.
“A large contributor to inflation this month was an increase in gas and energy prices as markets reacted to Putin’s aggressive actions,” President Biden said in a statement. “As I have said from the start, there will be costs at home as we impose crippling sanctions in response to Putin’s unprovoked war, but Americans can know this: the costs we are imposing on Putin and his cronies are far more devastating than the costs we are facing.”
Biden’s newest inflation deflection tactic is being met with resistance, even from legacy media outlets that have typically been sympathetic to his presidency.
Unsurprisingly, right-leaning outlets like the New York Post and Fox News place the blame squarely on Biden. On Thursday the Wall Street Journal took a hard stance against the Russia narrative in an editorial that ran under the headline “It’s Joe Biden’s Inflation.”
Even the New York Times – which reports that many Americans blame Russia and are willing to suffer economically for the sake of protecting Ukraine – expressed concern that the president was asking Americans to endure intense hardship in an election year.
The bet for Biden is that Americans, who thus far have supported sanctions on Russia, will transfer that goodwill toward his own flagging popularity, even when inflation and gas prices are bound to jump repeatedly in the coming months.
“[We] do anticipate that gas prices and energy prices will go up,” Psaki said. “That is something that the President has conveyed very clearly to the American public. We also believe it will be temporary and not long lasting.”
According to a report from Reuters, inflation in Russia has increased to north of 9% since the imposition of worldwide sanctions.