By Brad Polumbo
The latest consumer price index shows that consumer prices rose 8.5% year-over-year from March 2021 to March 2022. That’s even higher than last month’s shocking 7.9% year-over-year figure and amounts to the highest level of inflation we’ve seen in decades.
But there’s more to the story here. This new set of data also annihilates the Biden administration’s biggest excuse for inflation: blaming Vladimir Putin.
The White House has repeatedly tried to deflect blame onto the shoulders of the Russian president and his invasion of neighboring Ukraine. True, this absolutely has disrupted global energy markets and led to increased gas prices over the last few months.
“We expect March [inflation data] to be extraordinarily elevated due to Putin’s price hike,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. Biden himself has made similar claims, repeatedly attempting to cast inflation as a product of “Putin’s price hike.”
But even looking only at gas prices, we can easily see that they were surging long before Putin invaded Ukraine. Yet this new inflation data makes the White House’s narrative even less tenable.
The March data also includes a measure that excludes gas prices and food prices. Even that measure still rose 6.5% year-over-year, a very high level of inflation. And while Russia’s actions have certainly affected gas prices, nobody can seriously believe that Putin drove up the price of everything. And, of course, inflation across the board was spiraling long before the invasion, as this graph simply shows:
Yes, the true causes of inflation are complicated. And while Biden’s policies have undoubtedly contributed to the surge in prices, not all the root causes are directly within his control. But one thing the president can control is what messages he sends to the public. And when it comes to the silly “Putin’s price hike” talking point, the Biden administration is blatantly ignoring reality to mislead voters with a politically convenient fiction.