Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo insisted on Sunday that inflation would come down, but avoided addressing the idea that she was wrong to call it ‘temporary’ nearly a year ago. a year.
Asked by CNN “State of the Union” co-anchor Jake Tapper why the Biden administration appears to have been “flat-footed” in fighting inflation earlier, Raimondo pointed to job growth and salary increases since President Biden took office.
“Why does it seem like the Biden administration is constantly playing cleanup on these issues that are unfolding exactly as many experts predict, instead of averting them before they become a crisis?” asked Taper.
At first, Raimondo highlighted his time as Governor of Rhode Island and high unemployment rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, then pivoted to praise Biden’s leadership.
“Thanks to the leadership of the president, we are – America is back to work. Wages are rising. The job market is strong. People haven’t been kicked out of their homes,” Raimondo said, pointing out the differences in the current economy compared to previous years of economic downturn.
“Yes, inflation is a problem. In no way do I want to minimize this. The Fed is independent,” she said. “But fundamentally what we have here is a robust economic recovery. And I think a lot of that is thanks to the leadership of the president.
Many Biden administration officials and the president himself insisted nearly a year ago that the rise in inflation was ‘temporary’ and ‘transitional’ before hitting a high of 40. years earlier this year with consumer goods prices up 8.3%.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted last week that she had been wrong to believe last year that inflation would be transitory and a “small risk”.
The United States added 390,000 jobs and the unemployment rate even held steady at 3.6% in May, building on months of strong job growth, according to data released by the Department of Labor on Friday. Work.
But job postings remained at near-record levels, falling slightly to 11.4 million on the last business day of April, according to a report released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were about two open jobs for every unemployed American.
“We have a strong economy now,” Raimondo said. “People are working. Inflation is a problem, I grant you that. And we’re going to master it, because we’re going to stick with it until we do.
Although economists disagree on the share of inflation due to the tightening of the labor market, they are generally concerned about the imbalance between the number of open jobs and the apparent lack of workers to fill them.
Biden has in recent days thrust his relationship with the independent central bank into the spotlight as the administration seeks to curb inflation, an issue highlighted as one of voters’ top concerns in recent polls ahead of the election. mid-term.
Biden met with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell in the Oval Office on Tuesday and said he would not interfere with the work of the bank as the Fed continues to raise interest rates, making more expensive for banks to lend money and strengthens the purchasing power of the dollar.
Pressed by Tapper if the administration would remove Trump-era tariffs imposed on Chinese imports, a move some Democrats believe would cut costs for consumers, Raimondo said Biden had asked him and others administration officials, “to analyze this”.
Raimondo added that the administration decided to maintain some of the tariffs, like those imposed on steel, for national security reasons and to protect American workers. But she said the administration could remove tariffs on other Chinese imports, such as household items and bicycles, to dampen inflation.
“It may make sense, and I know the president is thinking about it,” she said.