Russia demoted as cause of US inflation
US President Joe Biden admitted on Tuesday that Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns were the primary cause of runaway inflation, but still blamed his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for high gas prices at home. Biden’s domestic popularity has suffered amid the worst inflation since 1981.
The White House has tried to blame the inflation on Russia’s military operation in Ukraine for the past six weeks, insisting on the phrase “Putin price hike” to describe the skyrocketing prices at the pump. Biden dutifully repeated the talking point in a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, but then “demoted” Russia as the principal culprit.
There were “two reasons” for the high prices, Biden said. “The first was Covid. Because of the pandemic, we had disruptions in our supply of important materials, so prices went up.” He followed that up by attempting to explain the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic lockdowns back in 2020.
“And the second big reason for inflation is Vladimir Putin, not a joke,” he then said. “Last month, about 70% of the increase in inflation was the consequence of Putin’s price hike because of the impact of gas and energy prices.”
INFLATION: President Biden: "We made a lot of progress and we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us, but we know what families are still struggling with higher prices." pic.twitter.com/XK43LDAMal— Forbes (@Forbes) April 19, 2022
The White House has been using the “Putin price hike” talking point since banning the import of Russian oil and gas to the US on March 8. The Russian president responded by saying Moscow had “absolutely nothing to do with” rising US gas prices, as Russia’s exports to the US were “negligible” to begin with.
“They just hide behind these decisions in order to deceive once again their own population,” Putin said last month.
The latest polls suggest most Americans agree. Biden’s approval rating is only at 33% according to last week’s numbers by Quinnipiac, a pollster traditionally friendly to the Democrats. While Republicans and independent voters overwhelmingly blame Biden’s economic policies for the high gas prices, Democrats are evenly split between blaming Russia and believing greedy oil companies are price gouging.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, March saw the highest spike in inflation since 1981, with gas prices rising 18% from the previous month and 48% from the same time last year.
Meanwhile, it has been estimated that nearly 80% of all US dollars in existence have been printed since January 2020, when Biden took office.