Biden predicted inflation hit its 'peak' in December, but March numbers show CPI at 40-year high

'It’s the peak of the crisis,' Biden said in December.

Three months after President Biden said inflation hit its peak, the consumer price index hit a new 40-year high, according to a new Labor Department report released Tuesday.

The consumer price index rose 8.5% in March from a year ago, marking the fastest increase since January 1982, when inflation hit 8.4%. So-called core prices, which exclude more volatile measurements of food and energy, climbed 6% in January from the previous year – a sharp increase from December, when it rose 5.5%. 


President Biden

President Joe Biden participates in a virtual call with the National Governors Association from the White House campus on Dec. 27, 2021. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Getty Images)

In December, when inflation was still at 6.8%, Biden told reporters that "it’s the peak of the crisis" and, "you’ll see it change sooner, quicker, more rapidly than people think." 

The president's comments at the time came several days after Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell told Congress that "factors pushing inflation upward will linger well into" 2022.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File / AP Newsroom)

Powell's testimony followed months of the White House painting the skyrocketing inflation as "transitory" and predicting it would come back down in 2022. The numbers have continued to rise, however, and the Federal Reserve has been forced to take a more hawkish approach by approving a 0.25 percentage point interest rate hike last month, the first increase since December 2018. The Fed is expected to keep raising rates in the coming months to try to slow borrowing and spending.

"The Fed will be pressing firmly on the brake pedal – not just pumping the brakes – in an effort to slow demand and bring the inflation rate back down," Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, told The Associated Press Tuesday.


After Powell’s comments late last year, White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to walk back the transitory claims, saying, "it doesn’t really matter what you call it" and that inflation "will subside next year."

Jen Psaki

Press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a briefing at the White House on March 17, 2022. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

The White House continues to blame the price spike on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and supply-chain issues, while Republicans have blamed Biden’s green energy agenda and his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan for over-stimulating the economy.

Fox News’ Megan Henney contributed reporting.