Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo was pressed on CNN Sunday about the Biden administration looking “flat-footed” in its response to inflation and the baby formula shortage, at one point citing France’s higher gas prices as a defense of White House policies.
Raimondo blamed inflation and high gas prices on the war in Ukraine and supply chain issues during the pandemic after “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper pointed to her comments from July. She said that inflation would be temporary and a short-term problem, but it’s bedeviled President Biden and the nation for months.
“So you got it wrong, too,” Tapper said.
“So, clearly we are and Americans are struggling with inflation. But I don’t think anyone predicted Putin’s war in Ukraine or various other things that have happened that have been unexpected. I still think we will get inflation under control. We just have to stick with it and see it through,” Raimondo told Tapper. She said that the war would continue to drive prices up, adding, “we can’t deny that.”
Tapper continued to press Raimondo on the administration’s role in contributing to inflation. He cited economist Larry Summers, who said there was a “chance” Biden’s American Rescue Plan could fuel inflation, by pumping the economy with too much money.
“I don’t really agree with that characterization. The reality is, I was just in Europe a couple of weeks ago. Gas in France is $10 a gallon. They didn’t have an American Rescue Plan like we did. I shudder to think, Jake, what we would be living through right now if we didn’t have the American Rescue Plan. Remember, that was the money for vaccinations, which actually allowed us to get everybody back to work,” she said.
Inflation hit 8.3% in April, a slight decrease from March’s Consumer Price Index. In March, inflation climbed to 8.5%, a 40-year-high.
Tapper also asked Raimondo about the administration’s response to the baby formula shortage. Raimondo said she first heard about the issue in April but noted that she was not involved in the response to it.
Following the closing of the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan, parents across the country have struggled to find and purchase baby formula. Biden said on Friday that a shipment of 33 million bottles of baby formula were headed to the U.S.
“We’re talking about two critical issues here that directly affect the American people where they live. Where the Biden administration looks like it was caught flat-footed – inflation and baby formula, not to mention the record gas prices, which were hurt by the war in Ukraine, no doubt, but that’s not the only reason why they’re so high. Why does it seem the Biden administration is consistently playing clean-up on these problems that are playing out exactly as many experts forecast they would instead of heading them off before they become a crisis?” Tapper asked.
Raimondo said that it was “one way to look at it,” and continued to praise Biden’s leadership and decisions. After noting she didn’t want to “minimize” inflation, she said, “fundamentally, what we have here is a robust economic recovery. And I think that’s in large part due to the president’s leadership.”
The average gas price could hit $5 per gallon soon and are already setting records. The average price per gallon reached $4.84 on Sunday, according to AAA.
The Abbott plant reopened and restarted production on Saturday. EleCare formula and other special metabolic formulas will be available on June 20, according to the company.