Gene Sperling, the senior adviser to President Joe Biden, attempted to argue Wednesday that the president hadn’t been contradicted by comments his Federal Reserve chair made earlier in the day about inflation.
During an interview on Biden’s proposed gas tax holiday, Sperling repeatedly claimed that the soaring gas prices Americans are facing are due entirely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“What is clear, though, is the gas price element is due solely to what we’ve seen from the aggression,” Sperling said at one point. “Yes, we were struggling with pandemic-related supply chain and price pressures before this, but the reason we’ve seen the gas price rise, both here and really around the world, is due to Putin.”
Earlier in the day, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who was renominated to his position by Biden, broke with the president’s preferred inflation narrative and told lawmakers that the steep rise in prices had begun before Russia invaded Ukraine.
“No, inflation was high before — certainly before the war in Ukraine broke out,” Powell said during a Senate Banking Committee hearing.
Sen. Bill Haggarty (R-TN), who had asked Powell the question about rising prices, responded that he was “glad to hear” Powell say that. “The Biden administration seems to be intent on deflecting blame,” Haggarty added.
When Powell’s comments were played for Sperling during his interview, the senior adviser didn’t budge, claiming there was nothing “contradictory” about Powell and Biden’s differing views on inflation.
“Jake, that is clearly correct, and that is not contradictory with anything this president said,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Despite Sperling’s insistence otherwise, the Biden administration has for months referred to the out-of-control rise in prices as the “Putin Price Hike.” Earlier this month, after inflation increased from 8.3% to 8.6% in May, the president released a statement telling Americans that “Putin’s Price Hike hit hard in May here.”
Recent polling shows that only 11% of Americans believe Biden’s claim that the war in Ukraine is to blame for sky-high gas prices. In contrast, 52% of those polled put the responsibility on the president and his regressive energy policies.