Biden still pitching massive spending plans despite inflation surge

Biden holding second meeting with key lawmakers this week

President Biden is still pitching his multitrillion-dollar spending plans to Congress, even amid the threat of surging inflation, after consumer prices in April saw the biggest increase in decades.

The Labor Department reported that U.S. consumer prices for goods and services surged 0.8% in April, the largest monthly increase in more than a decade and the fastest year-over-year jump since 2008. Excluding the volatile food and energy data, core inflation rose 0.9% in April and 3% over the past 12 months.


But the president is slated to meet with a group of Republican senators later Thursday – his second meeting with key members of Congress this week – and is set to formally propose his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which combined are projected to cost nearly $4 trillion.

Biden says he is confident that the American people "overwhelmingly support" his efforts, and told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell this week that his goal is to reach a deal with bipartisan support.

"I want to make it clear – I want to get a bipartisan deal on as much as we can get a bipartisan deal on," the president said. "And that means roads, bridges, broadband, all infrastructure."

The White House has billed the American Jobs Plan as an infrastructure package, but Republicans have criticized the administration for what it considers infrastructure.


"I’m not giving up on the fact that we have, you know, two million women not able to go back to work because all the daycare centers are closed or out of business, and so they can’t go back to work," Biden said. "I’m not going to give up on a whole range of things that could go to the question of productivity, of increasing jobs and increasing employment, increasing revenues. I am not willing to give up on that, so we’re going to fight those out."

He added: "So I want to know what can we agree on, and let's see if we can get an agreement and kick start this and then fight over what's left – see if I can get it done without Republicans if need be."

But amid the inflation surge, Republican lawmakers are seizing onto the swiftly rising prices, as well as lackluster job creation last month, to argue that more government funding will only hurt the economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

"With this morning’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) release, it is clear that inflation is here," Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., tweeted. "The Federal Reserve can no longer pretend this is a distant problem. It is time for the Fed to revisit its accommodative policy stance."

Since the pandemic began a little more than one year ago, Congress has approved nearly $6 trillion in federal spending designed to keep the nation's economy afloat, including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Package passed by Democrats in March. The massive level of spending pushed the nation's deficit to a record $3.1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year and a high of $1.7 trillion for the first half of fiscal 2021. 

"There’s so much money out there in the economy that the demand is high, and it’s outpacing supply and it’s starting to push prices up," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told Bloomberg on Wednesday. "We need to be a little more cautious and restrained."


The Federal Reserve, led by Chairman Jerome Powell, has held interest rates near zero since March 2020 and has repeatedly indicated it will do so until "labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee's assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2% and is on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time." Powell has stressed that he sees no signs of persistent inflation. 

Economic projections from policymakers' last meeting show that most officials expect rates to remain near zero through 2023.  

Democrats are pushing ahead with passing the president's economic measures, known as the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. The initiatives would invest billions in the nation's infrastructure – including roads and bridges, as well as transit systems, broadband and green energy – and would vastly expand the government's social safety net. The plans would be paid for with a slew of new tax hikes on wealthy Americans and corporations. 

But Biden, meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday, maintained that he would be able to "reach a compromise."

"I ran, I said I wasn't going to be a Democratic president. I'm going to be a president for all Americans," Biden said. "And what the bottom line here is, we're going to see whether we can reach some consensus on a compromise on moving forward."

A reporter asked the president how he planned to reach a compromise.


"Easy, just snap my fingers," Biden joked. "It'll happen."

Despite Biden's confidence in reaching a compromise, McConnell said earlier this month that he did not expect any Republican senator to support the president's push for $4 trillion in spending on infrastructure and other projects.

FOX Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report.