Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Tuesday blamed the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve for inflation soaring over the past year at its fastest pace in more than 40 years.
Earlier in the day, the Labor Department said its consumer price index jumped 8.5% in March from 12 months earlier — the biggest year-over-year increase since December 1981.
"When will this end? It is a disservice to the American people to act as if inflation is a new phenomenon," Manchin wrote in a statement released by his office. "The Federal Reserve and the administration failed to act fast enough, and today's data is a snapshot in time of the consequences being felt across the country.
"Instead of acting boldly, our elected leaders and the Federal Reserve continue to respond with half-measures and rhetorical failures searching for where to lay the blame. The American people deserve the truth about why record inflation is happening and what must be done to control it."
Food prices rose 8.8% over the past 12 months and 1% in March alone, while gasoline prices were up 48% on the year after an 18.3% increase in March, according to Labor Department data.
"Let me be clear — inflation is a tax, and today's historic inflation data tells another chilling story about how these taxes on Americans are completely out of control," Manchin added in his statement.
"Hard-earned wages and financial savings are disappearing faster every month as prices continue to climb, while the pain and frustration of spending more on everyday items lingers over us all, especially among those who can afford it the least. Americans are seeing some of the largest increases in goods such as gas up 48%, beef up 16%, chicken and milk up 13%, and staples like coffee and eggs are up 11%."
Following confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to the Supreme Court this week, Democrats planned to turn their attention to another effort to pass President Joe Biden's massive spending bill.
Manchin, whose decision not to support Build Back Better killed the legislation at the end of last year, had indicated he might be open to supporting a limited version of Biden's spending bill.
The inflation news Tuesday, however, could change that.
"Here is the truth: We cannot spend our way to a balanced, healthy economy and continue adding to our $30 trillion national debt," Manchin said. "Getting inflation under control will require more aggressive action by a Federal Reserve that waited too long to act.
"It demands the administration and Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, support an all-the-above energy policy because that is the only way to bring down the high price of gas and energy while attacking climate change."
Manchin has said the Biden administration should be more "open-minded" in its energy policy response to the war in Ukraine and should approve pipeline infrastructure more quickly to grow U.S. gas output and help European allies.
"The United States of America is equipped to be energy independent from Russia and other terror-sponsoring countries while also working to fight global climate change and break our dependence on the critical mineral supply change from China," Manchin said Tuesday.
"The inflation number today is only the beginning unless we take immediate action to address the pain being felt across our nation. This is one problem facing the American people that one political party alone cannot fix. The American people cannot wait any longer."
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