A top economic adviser to President Biden repeatedly dodged the question of when the scorching, decades-high inflation that has vexed Americans for months will return to normal.
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum asked Brian Deese, the director of the White House National Economic Council, for a definitive timeline on the reduction of prices – shortly after the Federal Reserve ordered the largest interest rate hike since 1994 to tamp down inflation that surged to 8.6% in May.
“Give us a timeframe. We’re at 8.6% in inflation right now. When do you expect to see inflation in the 2% range, based on everything you are doing in your plan. When will that happen?” MacCallum asked in the Wednesday segment.
In response, Deese said there were “a lot of predictions out there” about when inflation would return to the 2% range that the Fed deems acceptable – but did not offer his own estimate.
“What I can tell you is this – that right now, the most constructive steps that Congress and the executive branch can take to help support what the Fed is trying to do are to lower the costs that families face directly and to lower the federal deficit,” Deese said. “And we have laid out a very specific plan to do that.”
In response, MacCallum pressed for a direct answer to her original question.
“When do you expect to see inflation at 2%? Will it take three months? Will it take a year? Will it take two years? What are your projections telling you?” MacCallum said.
Deese again avoided a direct response and reiterated the White House’s frequently used point that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is most responsible for driving up gas prices in the US.
“We know that the price of oil and the price of gas at the pump are being affected by Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine, but what we also know is that if we take the kinds of steps that we’re talking about, that we’ll get through that process more quickly,” Deese said.
“What is quickly? Can you define quickly? Give me just a ballpark, like, you know, we’re looking at a six-month situation with the kind of numbers we’re in right now, or we’re looking at two years,” MacCallum said.
“There’s a lot of people out there who are in the predicting business. We’re in the building business. We’re in the business of trying to put policies in place that will actually accelerate that outcome,” Deese said.
Biden has declared the fight against inflation to be his top domestic priority ahead of 2022 midterm elections likely to jeopardize the Democratic Party’s control of Congress. The president’s approval ratings have steadily declined in recent months as inflation has taken hold and surged to its highest level since 1981.
Critics have argued that Biden’s economic policies, including a regulatory crackdown on domestic oil refiners, have contributed to the bleak economic outlook — with many economists now predicting a recession by next year.