A video of President Joe Biden calling NBC’s Lester Holt a “wise guy” during an interview on Thursday—as the journalist asked the president about previous remarks saying inflation would temporary—has gone viral.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday that the year-on-year rate of inflation in January was 7.5 percent—marking the largest 12-month increase since February, 1982.
The annualized rate of inflation has been consistently high over the past several months as the economy has reopened and is likely to become a major issue in the upcoming midterm elections if the trend continues.
Holt asked Biden on Thursday: “I think it was back in July, you said inflation was going to be temporary. I think a lot of Americans are wondering what your definition of temporary is.”
“Well, you’re being a wise guy with me a little bit,” Biden replied.
“And I understand, that’s your job,” he said.
Biden went on: “But look, at the time what happened was the—let’s look at the reasons for the inflation. The reason for the inflation is the supply chains were cut off, meaning that the products, for example automobiles—the lack of computer chips to be able to build those automobiles so they could function—they need those computer chips.”
The president argued that supply chain issues were partly responsible for inflation and pointed to the rise in cost for automobiles.
There were serious issues in the global supply in late 2021 and early 2022 but conditions have since begun to ease and are expected to continue to improve this year.
Holt asked Biden on Thursday: “When can Americans expect some relief from this soaring inflation?”
“According to Nobel laureates, 14 of them that contacted me and a number of corporate leaders, it ought to be able to start to taper off as we go through this year,” the president said.
The president has made reference to Nobel Prize winners before. In September, 2021, 15 winners of the Nobel Prize in economics released a letter praising the Build Back Better agenda, which was then a $3.5 trillion plan. The number later grew to 17 laureates.
That letter said the plan would “ease longer-term inflationary pressures” but the Build Back Better plan was later cut to $1.75 trillion and now appears to dead in the Senate.
In response to a question on July 19, 2021, Biden said that “our experts believe” that most of the price increases that had occurred at that time were expected to be “temporary.”
“There’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way—no serious economist. That’s totally different,” Biden later added.
During those remarks, he also referenced supply chain issues and difficulties with the production of vehicles as factors in inflation.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is the measure of inflation, tracks the average change over time in prices paid by urban consumers for a so-called “market basket” of goods and services including food, energy and other items.
Prices rose 0.6 percent in January, with the food price index seeing a 0.9 percent rise and energy index also seeing a rise at the same rate. The index for all items other than food rose 0.6 percent in January, unchanged from December.
Though the annualized rate of inflation reached a 40-year high in January, unemployment has remained at four percent, with joblessness claims falling for a third week.
Asked about his historic inflation crisis, Biden calls the reporter "a wise guy" and blames inflation on "the lack of computer chips." pic.twitter.com/X2IwYf3OXB— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) February 10, 2022