White House economic director says 'inflation is high,' pledges Biden bills will bring it down

Brian Deese appeared on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

November 14, 2021, 9:06 AM

White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese acknowledged that "inflation is high and it's affecting Americans in their pocketbook and their outlook," but promised the administration is working to address the rise in costs in both the short and long term.

"That concern actually underscores why it's so important to move forward on the Build Back Better bill that Congress is considering," Deese said in an interview Sunday with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," making the case for President Joe Biden's nearly $2 trillion social spending bill still being debated in Congress.

"This bill is actually going to address the core costs that American families are facing in child care, in housing, in health care," he added.

As inflation continues to plague the U.S., a new ABC News-Washington Post poll paints a problematic picture for the president on the economy as a whole: 70% of Americans say it is in bad shape, and more than half -- 55% -- disapprove of Biden's handling of the economy.

With the holidays rapidly approaching and prices climbing by more than 6% in the last 12 months, Stephanopoulos pressed Deese on what the administration can do now to offer relief to families.

"I know you're hoping to pass it, but even if it does pass, it's going to take a while for the benefits to kick in. So what can Americans expect in the short term? Is inflation going to get worse before it gets better?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"We have to finish the job on COVID. We know that the more that people feel comfortable getting out into the economy, going to movies rather than buying television at home, working in the workplace, the more we can return a sense of normalcy to our economy," Deese said, adding that the administration will also tackle the supply chain crunch felt across the globe with the bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden will sign into law Monday.

"It's the first time that a president is actually delivering on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and while a number of those pieces will be longer term, there are things that will go into effect right away to try to get money out to help. For example, upgrade our ports, upgrade our airports, upgrade our roads," Deese said.

"We're going to work without delay to get that money working for the American people," he added.

The new ABC News-Washington Post poll does also have some good news for the president on his agenda, as 63% support for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress that Biden will sign into law Monday, and 58% support the social spending bill.

Despite the strong public support for the social policy initiative, the White House is still facing pushback from Republicans and some Democrats, who worry pumping more money into the economy could worsen the inflationary woes currently facing the country.

Deese pushed back, pointing to economic analyses that show the measures will decrease inflation, not add to it, and arguing the bill is fully paid for.

"You say it's fully paid for, but the Congressional Budget Office still hasn't weighed in and certified that it actually is fully paid for," Stephanopoulos pressed.

"We're confident this bill, as it moves through the process, is going to be fully paid for, and not only that, it's actually going to reduce deficits over the long term," Deese replied.

"We've already seen the independent Joint Committee on Taxation, as well as the Treasury Department, look at the tax components of this bill and say, not only are they enough to offset the investments in this package, but actually over the long term, they will reduce the deficit by trillions of dollars because we're making permanent changes to the tax code," he said.

Asked about West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin's suggestion that the bill should be delayed due to inflation concerns, Deese remained optimistic that there would be progress this week and said Manchin's worries actually make the case for taking action now.

"We're confident that this bill is going to come up in the House this week, that it will get a vote it will pass, and it will move on to the Senate," he said. "And those concerns, which we understand and we share, those concerns actually underscore why we need to move out on this bill."

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