One of President Biden’s top economic officials erupted Tuesday in a heated argument in which Fox News anchors Sandra Smith and John Roberts demanded an explanation of why the administration is not hasn’t been able to calm the inflation hitting US household budgets.
The disagreement began after Gene Sperling, a senior Biden adviser overseeing the enactment of the $1.9 trillion U.S. bailout package, defended the administration’s handling of inflation and insisted that the president was focusing on the crisis.
Roberts asked Sperling to explain why the Biden administration ignored the warning from former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who warned as early as March 2021 that the Federal Reserve was not responding adequately to impending inflation.
Sperling declined to respond to Summers’ past remarks, citing the Biden administration’s concerns about interference with Fed independence — a stance that drew a sharp response from Roberts.
“It was a comment about the Fed, but it was a warning to everyone, contained in a broader warning… from Larry Summers: ‘Inflation is on the horizon, it will bite us, we better do something.’ And no one did anything except say, “Oh, that’s transient,” Roberts said.
“I disagree with that. I can quote you 20, 30 other experts who had different projections, who thought inflation was coming down, who thought what happened was that supply chains worlds deteriorated and did not respond,” Sperling replied.
Sperling continued his defense, saying most experts agreed with the Biden administration’s initial view that inflation was “transient” and that the administration was taking strong action to address the problem.
Smith interrupted to push back Sperling’s argument.
“If he’s been obsessed with lower gas prices, why are we at a whole new high today? Why are we seeing $4.62 a gallon at the pumps if this president is obsessed with fighting gas prices and inflation?
“You know the answer to that — you know it’s global,” Sperling said. “You read the papers today. You know the euro just said inflation was 8.1%. You read last week in the papers that the UK was at 9%. »
“So there’s nothing we can do about it?” As a country, is there anything we can do to lower prices? Smith said.
“I explicitly said otherwise,” Sperling replied.
Sperling and the Fox News anchors argued for several more minutes, with the conservative host pressuring the Biden adviser for explicit projections of where prices will go in the coming months.
Sperling joked that he was “not a forecaster” and would not make any predictions about when the Detroit Tigers would win the World Series.
When Smith and Roberts continued their bid for details on the economic outlook, Sperling hit back.
“Here’s the deal – I just went through the plan, and you just pretend I didn’t say it, you just ignore it,” Sperling said. “You just ask the same questions. It’s your show if that’s what you want to do, but when I go through this and you interrupt, I don’t see how it helps your viewers.
Biden and his top economic advisers face mounting pressure to address the inflation crisis ahead of the upcoming May consumer price index release.
On Tuesday, Biden-appointed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted she was “wrong” to initially view inflation as transitory.