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Tipsheet

Jared Bernstein Tries and Fails to Do Damage Control During His Many Media Appearances on Inflation

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Economic adviser Jared Bernstein has so far this week appeared on Fox News multiple times this week to sell the Biden administration's position on inflation. 

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This included on "Fox News Sunday," where he spoke to host Shannon Bream where they discussed numbers released last week that showed inflation had risen 0.1 percent in August, and 8.3 percent in the past 12 months. Bernstein sought to assure views that "this is why easing inflationary pressures is the president's number one top domestic priority," while he also touted falling gas prices, which are still higher than they were during the Trump administration as well as the passage of the misnamed "Inflation Reduction Act" which will actually do no such thing

When it comes to whatever benefits that legislation may have brought about, Bream reminded that they will be done away with when it comes to President Joe Biden's so-called "student loan forgiveness" plan. Bernstein failed to sufficiently answer that concern though, as he just kept touting parts of the bill. 

The administration's supposed priority of reducing inflation was something Bernstein emphasized throughout the segment. "Prices remain uncomfortably high, that's why it's the top priority, that's why we're doing everything we can" on this issue, to which they "are very much devoted to."

When asked about the most recent Fox News poll numbers, which included an emphasis on inflation in that 78 percent of respondents say inflation has caused hardship for their families. Bream pointed out this is up from the 75 percent figure from when Bernstein was on in July. The poll also noted that a majority, at 55 percent, said inflation is "not at all" under control. 

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Despite the poll's findings, though, Bernstein still tried to argue that "when it comes to promises made, promises kept, this president and this White House really have a strong track record." He did address the polling, claiming "I think you have to also there get under the hood," and pointed to the "small but clear improvements in Biden's rating," which he thinks has to do with the points he's made, but also his claim that "inflation has been effectively flat" for the past two months, the same argument that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stunningly made last week.

It's worth noting that just 29 percent approve of Biden's handling of inflation, which is indeed higher than it was in previous months, but still nothing to get too excited over.

Bernstein's claims about how much the Biden administration cares about reducing inflation went out the window when that "60 Minutes" interview aired later that same day. 

As Leah highlighted, during that interview, Biden sought to dismiss concerns that Americans have with this top of mind issue by casually mentioning that the "inflation rate month to month was just—just an inch, hardly at all." He was even doing so as a matter of saying "let's put this in perspective."

CBS’s Scott Pelley tried to put it truly in perspective, by reminding him "it's the highest inflation rate, Mr. President, in 40 years."

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While Biden claimed "I got that," before going on to say "but guess what we are? We’re in a position for the last several months it hasn’t spiked. It is just barely — it’s basically even" and "it's a process," he didn't seem to get that at all, as he fumbled his way of listing off what he perceives are his administration's other successes.

Bernstein had an even more contentious interview on Fox News the following day, while speaking to Martha MacCallum on "The Story," during which he again claimed "we're doing everything we can to help" with inflation, though he also focused on the inflation rates from the past two months which he called "a respot" and gas prices.

During the segment, Bernstein was also asked to respond to Biden's remarks, which, with MacCallum phrasing it as "the White House's argument is that people are supposed to feel good about the fact that it's basically even, even though the core number went up 6/10ths, which, as you know, concerned a lot of economists. When they dug into that number they think that means inflation's going to be around for some time."

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This led to some near crosstalk between the two, as MacCallum reminded "but the president said that number didn't spike," though she offered it "absolutely spiked" considering it went from 1.4 percent to 8.3 percent during the nearly 24-month period of his presidency. 

Despite MacCallum playing a clip of Biden's remarks, Bernstein offered that "I don't think you'll hear any White House, uh, economist or policy analyst saying uh, Americans should feel good about inflation. In fact, we know inflation is a significant challenge to households, and that's why we've done so much to try to help," as he once more touted gas prices, and then wouldn't let MacCallum address how they're still too high, as well as Democratic-passed legislation while denigrating Republican opponents for not voting for the "Inflation Reduction Act."

Polls continue to show that inflation remains a top concern for voters as we get increasingly closer to November. 

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