Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Democrats and Republicans had a decidedly different read on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ February Consumer Price Index report, which was released Tuesday.
The left hailed a total CPI that was up 6.4 percent from a year ago as a victory and a sign of inflation cooling to at least below decades-old record highs. Republicans pointed to the fact that inflation numbers remain higher than expected and that Biden still has a laundry list of spending desires as evidence the issue persists.
“Inflation in America is continuing to come down, which is good news for families and businesses across the country,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Today’s data confirm that annual inflation has fallen for seven straight months.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), of late Biden’s primary adversary on Capitol Hill, said that the numbers remain bleak for working-class and poor Americans.
“@JoeBiden’s reckless agenda drains hardworking Americans’ bank accounts, all while failed Washington politicians get rich,” Scott tweeted. “And for some reason, this admin is acting like things are just fine.”
.@JoeBiden's reckless agenda drains hardworking Americans' bank accounts, all while failed Washington politicians get rich.
And for some reason, this admin is acting like things are just fine.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) February 15, 2023
The numbers CPI released are the perfect blend of good and bad news, making it possible for both sides to be arguably correct.
While it’s true inflation has ceased to grow at a rate as breakneck as the bulk of Biden’s first year-plus in office, and has shown signs of potentially entering a steady decline, the cost of essentials continues to soar.
Food prices have increased by 10.1 percent since January 2022, which is really saying something given that the United States’ rates were among the most dire in the world and at a 40-year high at the time.
The cost of energy is up 8.7% from a year ago and up 2% since last month, while the cost of fuel oil is up 27.7% and piped gas 26.7% year over year.
Transportation service costs (14.6%) were also up from January 2023, as was the cost of shelter (7.9%), and medical care (3.0%).
Although it is not tracked specifically on the CPI, the cost of childcare has skyrocketed in the last year. According to an article by Fatherly, the cost to hire a babysitter jumped by 9.7% from January 2022 to January 2023, following an 11-plus-percent spike from January 2021 to 2022.
“Working Americans need relief from President Biden’s ongoing inflation crisis.” Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement shared on Twitter. “President Biden is in denial and has no plan to stop the inflation he started.”
BIDEN TAKES CREDIT FOR POSITIVES
Biden continues to push the message that whatever good has come from the economy, even a nebulous victory, is thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.
“There is still more work to do as we make this transition to more steady, stable growth, and there could be setbacks along the way,” Biden said. “That is why my unwavering focus is on continuing to lower costs for families, rebuild our supply chains, and invest in America.”
Smith indicated that he and Republicans were willing to work with Democrats to affect meaningful change on inflation, specifically by reigning in spending.
“House Republicans’ first step to fighting inflation is to put a stop to the wasteful Washington spending that has robbed workers of two months’ pay and jeopardized America’s long-term fiscal health,” Smith said. “With the ongoing negotiations over the debt ceiling, President Biden and congressional Democrats have an opportunity to come to the table and work with Republicans to find common-sense solutions to root out wasteful spending that is fueling inflation.”
Even though he continues to call for cooperation, Biden has thus far refused to bend an inch toward the right. On Tuesday, he doubled down on protecting the Inflation Reduction Act, which Republicans have been anxious to defund and are willing to dig in on increasing the nation’s debt ceiling to destroy.
“Unfortunately, many of my Republican friends in Congress seem intent on taking us in the opposite direction. They have proposed repealing the Inflation Reduction Act, which would make inflation worse, shower billions of dollars on Big Pharma, and increase the deficit.”
Biden offered no evidence other than conjecture on this claim, which he coupled with another round of accusing Republicans of being anti-elderly and out to destroy Social Security and Medicare.