Senator McConnell: Inflation Is Biden’s Fault, Not Putin’s

Published 8:47 am Friday, April 1, 2022

Democrats have tried a number of dishonest strategies to wave away Americans’ rising concerns over inflation: first, they claimed inflation wasn’t happening; then, they claimed it would only be “transitory”; then, they claimed inflation was actually a good thing; then, they blamed it on business owners.

Now, after our economy recorded another forty-year high inflation rate in February, President Biden is trying to pin the blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The only problem with his most recent attempt to offload responsibility? It simply isn’t true.

Like all other Americans, I am appalled by Putin’s heartless, illegal, and devastating invasion of Ukraine. In the months preceding the attack, I called on the Biden Administration to enact stiff sanctions against Russia and ship more lethal aid to the Ukrainian government.

The President ignored my calls back then, only taking action after the war had begun.

But now that President Biden has started to put meaningful pressure on Russia, he’s dishonestly trying to avoid accountability for inflation.

Our necessary response to Putin’s aggression will certainly have a real impact on commodity prices going forward, especially oil and gas prices. But President Biden’s anti-energy agenda – ending the Keystone XL pipeline, banning new drilling on federal lands, and proposing onerous new regulations on energy producers – had already helped increase gas prices by 48% before Russia’s invasion.

Across all products, our current inflationary spike far predates the most recent round of U.S. sanctions on Russia. After staying relatively low and constant under four years of Republican policies, inflation surged after President Biden took office in 2021. And it hasn’t let up since.

The culprit is not Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s corresponding sanctions, which only began in late February and largely did not impact that month’s forty-year high inflation rate. And it’s certainly not “corporate greed” as some on the Left claim – after all, businesses did not suddenly become more “greedy” in 2021 after four decades of restraint.

No, the blame for our current inflationary spike lies squarely with President Biden. More specifically, the President’s poorly-named “American Rescue Plan,” which he signed into law in the early days of his administration, caused prices to surge.

This bill entailed nearly $2 trillion in unnecessary spending and passed Congress without any Republican support. Democrats claimed the legislation was aimed at fighting COVID-19, but only about 1% of the bill’s funds actually went toward vaccines. Much of the rest was funneled to liberal pet projects and advocacy groups: a bailout for union pension plans, $8 million for a new Washington, D.C. tourism marketing campaign, money for “climate justice” – whatever that means.

At the time this legislation was working its way through Congress, I called it unnecessary and wasteful. I rallied Senate Republicans to vote against it because I knew it would overheat our economy, derail our recovery, and add to our deficit. I’ve been proven right ever since Democrats passed it.

Even Democrats recognize that our current inflation is President Biden’s fault. A former Obama Administration Treasury official said it was “Biden’s inflation and he needs to own it,” calling the American Rescue Plan inflation’s “original sin.” Larry Summers, an economist in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, warned a year ago that the American Rescue Plan would set off “inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation.”

It’s insulting that President Biden would try to shift blame on this issue so brazenly. But Kentuckians know better. They can see plainly that gas, groceries, and rent started getting expensive last year – not last week.

As Republicans continue to call out President Biden’s attempts to avoid responsibility for inflation, we’re also working to provide relief for the American people. Democrats still haven’t learned that additional wasteful spending will cause inflation to spiral further, so we’re derailing their attempts to plow more unnecessary money into the economy, and we’re working to unleash American energy producers to tamp down gas prices.

The Biden Administration must continue to put pressure on Putin through sanctions, but it’s crucial they start being honest with the American people. This isn’t “Putin’s price hike” – it’s President Biden’s. Clever talking points do nothing to help struggling Kentucky families.

Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is the Senate Republican Leader.