Rep. Susie Lee’s biggest worry about inflation isn’t rising prices. It’s people worrying about it.
“The media coverage on inflation begets inflation,” Lee said this month during a video fundraiser obtained by the Review-Journal. “The biggest worry about inflation is people start to fear inflation. It just is like a snowball effect.”
That sentiment would come as a surprise to families wondering how they’re going to afford groceries, clothing and gasoline this month. They didn’t need a press report to notice that their money isn’t going as far as it used to.
Labor Department economists have noticed, too. The consumer price index is up 6.8 percent over the past year. That’s the highest level in nearly 40 years. They identified price increases as the source of inflation, not the media’s coverage of those prices increases.
Lee blamed higher prices on supply chain disruptions and the fact that “no one was doing anything last year.” She also said Federal Reserve officials are “the people who control inflation.”
Lee is right that the causes of inflation are multifaceted, but President Joe Biden and Congress bear some responsibility. It turns out killing the Keystone Pipeline and paying people not to work weren’t great ways to fight higher prices.
But Lee is unrepentant. “I acknowledge that things are getting expensive, but I’m not going to apologize for it,” she said.
It’s not just Republicans who have noticed that Biden keeps dodging the press. Lee blasted him for it.
“Personally, I’m going to be critical of the president,” she said. “He’s got to get out in front of the press more. I know people who are nervous about it.”
Interestingly, she thinks that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe made a tactical mistake by frequently referencing Donald Trump.
“I don’t talk about Trump in my district because he’s irrelevant in my opinion,” she said. “People aren’t voting for him. I felt that McAuliffe tried to tie everything too much to Trump, and I really do think that hurt him.”
That’s pretty good analysis. It will be interesting to see if Lee sticks by it if Biden’s poll numbers stay low.
Lee also appears to be a loyal reader of the Review-Journal. “I read my local paper before I pick up any national paper every single day,” she said. But she’s not a fan. “I hate my local paper because it never gives me fair coverage,” she added. “But I always, always read it.”
To justify this attitude, Lee cited a story on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s recent visit to Las Vegas. Lee was upset she didn’t receive “credit” for securing funding for water recycling programs. Go figure a story about a Cabinet secretary’s visit would focus more on the secretary than a local House member. News stories aren’t supposed to read like an office press release, although one understands why a Democrat would think so.
Lee may be dismissive of inflation in private. But expect her to sing a different tune when she knows the public is listening.