President Biden and his advisers for months predicted inflation would be only transitory, a temporary problem that would fade as the economy rebounded and as supply chain issues were alleviated.
But new data Wednesday challenged the notion of just how long the high prices will last, exacerbating the problem inflation has become for the White House with only 10 months before voters go to the polls.
Prices increased 7 percent over the 12-month period that ended in December, making 2021 the worst year for inflation since 1982, according to a new report
released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rise in prices for almost everything from gasoline and groceries to used cars and construction materials could intensify a political crisis for Biden and his Democratic Party.
Inflation has a direct impact on the wallets of everyday people and, public opinion experts say, risks clouding the way they feel about an economy that by other measures is stable and strengthening.
“This is going to have huge consequences in the fall,” longtime Republican pollster Frank Luntz said.
He said that voters in focus groups he has conducted have been increasingly anxious and that while the coronavirus pandemic remains a top concern, the rising cost of goods is becoming more dominant.
“Of all the economic issues, this is number one,” Luntz said. “And it’s number one because whether you are upper middle class or lower middle class, you’re still affected.”
Fifty-four percent of Americans think the nation’s economy is getting worse, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday, and many are blaming Biden. Some 57 percent said they disapproved of Biden’s handling of the economy, while only 34 percent said they approved.
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