White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki partially defended rising costs on everyday goods during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday afternoon, saying that the costs were rising because demand is surging, which she called a “good thing.”
“A year ago, people were in their homes, 10 percent of people were unemployed. Gas prices were low because nobody was driving. People weren’t buying goods because they didn’t have jobs,” Psaki said. “Now, more people have jobs, more people are buying goods, that’s increasing the demand. That’s a good thing.”
“At the same time, we also know that the supply is low because we’re coming out of the pandemic and because a bunch of manufacturing sectors across the world have shut down, because ports haven’t been functioning as they should be,” Psaki continued. “These are all things we’re working through.”
Jen Psaki Defends Rising Prices: 'Good Thing' Because it Means 'More People are Buying Goods' pic.twitter.com/IaKVYVSCbR
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) October 15, 2021
Psaki was mocked online over the comment:
Psaki weighs in with the time-honored "Let them eat cake" defense. https://t.co/oD7ic9OxqY
— Jeff Carlson (@themarketswork) October 15, 2021
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) October 15, 2021
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) October 15, 2021
Biden had better find some people who aren’t Helen Keller tone deaf and he better find them soon. Working people fixing to revolt. https://t.co/RyXtxNDLfQ
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) October 15, 2021
Run with that one. https://t.co/0bXKaVJ2N7
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 15, 2021
"Having no milk to give to your children is a high class problem" https://t.co/2Ag0m4rc08
— Fusilli Spock (@awstar11) October 15, 2021
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Inflation is skyrocketing, as I don’t need to tell you. The prices for home heating costs, cars, groceries, furniture, rent, gasoline are hitting Americans right in the wallet. The White House response has been generally to say, hey, inflation shows that we’re coming out of the recession, so it’s a good sign.
President Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, enthusiastically retweeted an economist who had said, in part: “Most of the economic problems we’re facing, inflation, supply chains, etcetera, are high-class problems.”
Now, I get the larger point that, when we’re talking about economics, we’re coming out of recession. But doesn’t it seem tone-deaf to say that rising prices and empty grocery store shelves are high-class problems? Isn’t that a bit dismissive?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, that’s not exactly what the tweet said, nor the retweet of the original tweet, which is what we’re talking about here. It is true, though, Jake — and economists will tell you this, and I know you have interviewed some of them as well — that the fact is, the unemployment rate is about half what it was a year ago. So, a year ago, people were in their homes, 10 percent of people were unemployed. Gas prices were low because nobody was driving. People weren’t buying goods because they didn’t have jobs. Now, more people have jobs, more people are buying goods, that’s increasing the demand. That’s a good thing.
At the same time, we also know that the supply is low because we’re coming out of the pandemic and because a bunch of manufacturing sectors across the world have shut down, because ports haven’t been functioning as they should be. These are all things we’re working through. What people should know is that inflation is going to come down next year. Economists have said that. They’re all projecting that. But we’re working to attack these cost issues that are impacting the American people every single day. But there’s different issues in different sectors and many of the ones you mentioned.
TAPPER: Well, Chief of Staff Ron Klain, back when he was a private citizen in 2018, on Twitter, he went after the Trump White House for efforts to dismiss rising prices. Klain asked if Vice President Pence would do what then-Commerce Secretary Ross did and “hold up a Campbell’s Soup can and argue that price increases for basic food items really don’t hurt the middle class.”
There are a lot of people out there who might say, why did Ron Klain think that rising prices was a serious concern under Trump, but not under Biden?
PSAKI: I can tell you, from sitting in a lot of meetings with Ron Klain day in and day out, he is obsessed with lowering costs for the American people. And that’s driven from the president. And how we’re approaching that is, we’re trying to increase competition in the agricultural sector. We’re working to get ports up and running, which is an announcement we made earlier this week. We’re working with labor unions, with industry leaders to make sure that there’s more of a movement of goods. This is our focus every single day. There isn’t the same issue in every single sector. But every meeting I’m in, he’s pressing for the economic team and others to do more. And that’s what the American people should know.