White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday insisted that the "Build Back Better" agenda will help, not hurt, inflation, which she maintained is "of concern" to President Biden. Psaki warned "the real risk" is "inaction."
During a White House press briefing Friday, Psaki discussed inflation, which she said "has become a political cudgel, and it shouldn’t be."
U.S. consumer prices accelerated at the fastest annual pace in more than 30 years as supply chain bottlenecks and materials shortages persist and gasoline prices continue to increase.
"It is impacting … millions of Americans, no matter their political party, and that is certainly of concern to the president," Psaki said. She added that there are those at the Federal Reserve, and even on Wall Street, who "agree with our assessment that inflation is expected to substantially decelerate" next year.
But in a push for the president’s "Build Back Better" agenda, which is pending in Congress, Psaki vowed it "will not add to inflationary pressure," and instead, "will ease inflationary pressure moving forward."
"We’re really talking about costs for people," she said. "Cost of child care, cost of housing, cost of gas, cost of household goods — that is how people are experiencing this on a day-to-day basis — and that is, of course, of concern to the president."
But Psaki said the White House’s "view" is that "the real risk here is inaction."
"If we don’t act on Build Back Better, what we’re doing is, we won’t be able to cut child care costs in 2021. We won’t be able to make preschool free for many families in 2022. We won’t be able to get ahead of skyrocketing housing costs," Psaki said, noting the bill includes an investment in "building affordable housing units" that would "address the pending housing crisis."
"And we won’t be able to save Americans thousands of dollars by negotiating prescription drug prices," Psaki added.
"So, our view is this makes a strong case — this is a strong case — for moving forward with this agenda," Psaki added. "What we’re really talking about is cost to American families, how it is impacting them, and that is something that, if we don’t act now, we won’t be able to address these things in the short term either."
Psaki’s comments come after the consumer price index climbed 6.2% year over year in October, according to the Labor Department. The increase marked the largest annual gain since November 1990. Prices rose 0.9% month over month.
Energy prices jumped 4.8% last month and were up 30% over the past year. The October increase was largely the result of a 6.1% rise in the cost of gasoline.
Food prices, meanwhile, edged up 0.9% last month as the food at home category saw a 1% increase. All food prices are up 5.3% year over year.
Meanwhile, Biden's $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" agenda is facing challenges in Congress. Republicans have consistently objected to the spending package, but resistance from moderate Democrats has been the biggest roadblock to the president’s bill.