Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined Republicans Thursday in raising the alarm on rising inflation, saying now is not the time for sweeping spending plans from congress” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Congress<
“This inflation is real,” Manchin told reporters at the Capitol Thursday. “It’s harming people. It’s 7.5%. That’s a tax, and it continues to increase. It’s not decreasing. So the feds have to step up to the plate and do something. The administration has to. We all have to work together right now to get our financial house in order. If not, it’s going to be absolutely horrible what it’s going to do to the American economy.”
Sen. Joe Manchin speaks to the media after a Senate Democrats luncheon on Capitol Hill, Jan. 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Manchin soundly rejected fellow Democrats’ assertion that passing President Biden’s massive $2 trillion Build Back Better legislation would improve inflation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., doubled down on her claim this week that the sweeping legislation is “a crucial tool in the fight against inflation,” citing the work of 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists.
“This is not a time to be throwing fuel on the fire,” Manchin said of spending more money. “We have inflation, and we have basically an economy that’s on fire … We’ve got to get our house in order.”
During a WVMetroNews radio interview Thursday, the senator, referring to the Fed, said “They can’t keep pussyfooting around like they’ve been.”
The consumer price index rose 7.5% in January from a year ago, according to a new Labor Department report released Thursday, marking the fastest increase since February 1982, when inflation hit 7.6%. The CPI – which measures a bevy of goods ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents – jumped 0.6% in the one-month period from December.
Republicans pounced on the latest inflation numbers, saying they are tied to Biden’s leadership.
“He just doesn’t get it,” said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “America under his leadership is on the verge of, if not already in, a crippling wage-price spiral that will end badly for families, small businesses and the U.S. economy. But he’s doing nothing about it, and his Build Back Better bill would make it worse.”
Rep. Kevin Brady walks down the House steps at the Capitol on April 4, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso, the chair of the Senate Republican Conference, said families are footing the bill for “Democrats’ reckless spending and misguided policies.”
“Joe Biden’s economy has Americans drowning in record-high inflation,” he said.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, said, “Americans cannot keep up with reckless spending coming from the Democrats and this administration. Enough is enough.”
Rising inflation is eating away at strong wage gains that American workers have seen in recent months: Real average hourly earnings rose just 0.1% in January from the previous month, as the 0.6% inflation increase eroded the 0.7% total wage gain, according to the Labor Department. On an annual basis, real earnings actually declined 1.7% in January.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event at the White House on Oct. 4, 2021.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Biden said Thursday that while the numbers are elevated, forecasters have predicted inflation will ease substantially by the end of 2022 and pointed out that job growth and wage growth have amounted to the “fastest economic growth in decades.”
“On higher prices, we have been using every tool at our disposal, and 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,” Biden said.
“My administration will continue to be all hands on deck to win this fight,” he added.
Fox News’ Jason Donner and Megan Henney contributed to this report.