Kudos to CNN anchor Kate Bolduan for holding Cecelia Rouse’s feet to the inflationary fire this morning. Noting that the CBO has concluded that the so-called Inflation Reduction Act would do nothing for inflation at all, Bolduan pressed the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers how “personally comfortable” she was with its title. Rouse then proceeded to talk around inflation and Bolduan’s question, noting that the bill spends a lot of money over the next several years and talking about “economic transitions.”
Bolduan appeared unimpressed, as this clip from the RNC’s rapid-response team highlights. “But if you passed a bill called the Fill Every Pot Hole Act,” Bolduan retorts, “I mean voters should expect you to fill every pot hole.” Or at least some of them:
“Democrats titled this bill the Inflation Reduction Act, which begs of course for voters to hold you all accountable to that… the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan kind of scoring organization for legislation, says that the bill would have negligible impact on inflation this year and next,” Bolduan said.
She then asked Rouse whether she was “personally comfortable,” as an economist, with the title of the bill.
Rouse did not directly answer the question, but said the bill puts forth “represents really important investments we know we need to make that help to expand our economic capacity” and she suggested that investments in “supply supports” will help in supply meeting demand.
“But if you passed a bill called the Fill Every Pot Hole Act, I mean voters should expect you to fill every pot hole. So should voters measure the success of this bill on how much you reduce inflation in the next couple years?” Bolduan responded.
“This bill spans out over several years. The tax provisions, for example some of the tax revenue, will happen immediately. Some of the benefits in terms of deficit reduction will materialize over time,” Rouse said, adding that the bill represents “transitioning to an economy that works better for American families by generating the kind of growth that’s based on stable, steady productivity gains.”
Bolduan was less than impressed with Rouse’s performance:
Without her issue really answered, Bolduan simply laughed and concluded on the subject: “A name is just a name, but there are definitely a lot of other names you could have named this bill.”
True enough. “Progressive Hobby-Horse Spending Bill” would have been more accurate and raised expectations less, but it wouldn’t have gotten votes from Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema with that title. Presumably, anyway; their resistance to more massive spending in an inflationary wave had all but dissipated, clearly.
As for Rouse’s personal comfort, that’s an easy call at the moment. It will get a lot less easy if — and almost certainly when — the next couple of rounds of inflation reports show no easing on continually rising prices. Even the drop in gas prices will likely bottom out soon as demand pops up to meet a new price equilibrium. Biden and his team didn’t get those price cuts on fuel through massive new production of supply, after all, but on falling demand that looks a lot like what we’d see in a recession.
That’s the bet that Bolduan frames for Rouse and Biden, and properly so. The fact that Rouse can’t articulate even a single positive impact on inflation in the short term exposes what a fraud this bill was on voters, who badly need inflation to stop eroding their buying power. By the second week of October, voters will likely have lots of evidence on the scope of the bait-and-switch pulled on them by Biden, Rouse, and the Democrats. They can’t claim they weren’t warned.