President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are dismissing concerns over skyrocketing inflation, saying trillions of dollars on social programs and alternative energy projects should be passed regardless of the price tag.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii) said Monday a "serious inflation problem" would not change his party's plan to push forward with a multitrillion-dollar spending package. The Democrat argued that voters would rather fight climate change than address rising consumer prices.
"It is hard to argue that 50 years from now the question will be how did this Congress manage transitory inflation," Schatz told NBC News. "The question that everyone's going to be looking at 50 years from now is did we address the planetary crisis when we could or did we not."
The Hawaii liberal's comments came after a National Republican Congressional Committee poll found 70 percent of swing-district voters are "extremely or very concerned" about "rising prices and the higher cost of living." Like Schatz, however, Biden has remained undeterred, asserting during a town hall last week that Democrats' $3.5 trillion infrastructure proposal "will in fact reduce inflation, reduce inflation, reduce inflation."
With consumer prices surging at the fastest rate in 13 years, Biden has also shrugged off inflation concerns by claiming that the trend is only "temporary," telling reporters in July that "no serious economist" believes there's "unchecked inflation on the way."
Many economic experts are unconvinced. According to Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget senior policy director Marc Goldwein, "a lot of reasonable people think inflation is going to be higher than we thought it was." Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal in July, meanwhile, said price increases are "here to stay for years."
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Some prominent Democrats have also voiced concerns about inflation. Former president Barack Obama's National Economic Council director Larry Summers warned Democrats that their $1.9 trillion stimulus bill could "set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation." Vulnerable House Democrats have since conceded that the costly stimulus spending drove inflation. Rep. Kim Schrier (D., Wash.) in June acknowledged that her Democratic colleagues "knew that there was a possibility that this could lead to inflation." Despite her concerns over rising prices, Schrier stood by her support for "more infrastructure" and additional "clean energy" spending, including "investments in wind and solar."
Biden and his Democratic allies on the Hill will now have to navigate GOP attacks over inflation as they work to unify the party around a sweeping infrastructure package.
"Inflate our way out of inflation?" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said during a July Senate floor speech. "Runaway costs and surging inflation are a huge worry for middle-class families."