Treasury Secretary Yellen Grilled Over High Prices at Senate Hearing

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged that the price levels of many goods in the United States are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future but argued that it isn’t President Joe Biden’s fault. Her remarks came during her appearance before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday for a hearing addressing the financial stability of the U.S. economy. 

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) pressed Secretary Yellen on whether Americans should expect a decrease in prices anytime soon. The Louisiana Republican directly asked Biden’s Treasury Secretary: “These high prices, caused by ‘Bidenomics,’ are here to stay – aren’t they?”

“Well, the high prices were not caused by ‘Bidenomics,'” responded Secretary Yellen, before attempting to shift the blame for inflation: “We suffered a pandemic that resulted in severe dislocations.” Cutting through the spin, Sen. Kennedy again pressed Yellen on whether prices would fall, asking: “But if I could ask you, they’re here to stay, aren’t they?” Responding to Kennedy, Secretary Yellen admitted she does not expect the level of prices to go down.

The Biden administration has struggled to control inflation’s effects on the U.S. economy and its impact on American consumers. After taking office, President Biden pushed several large spending bills through Congress, including the American Rescue Plan – a $1.9 trillion ‘stimulus’ bill passed by Congress in March of 2021 intended to speed up the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the months after the stimulus bill was signed into law, the U.S. experienced what initially appeared to be only a gradual increase in the rate of inflation — with the rate rising from 2.6 percent in February to 5 percent in May and remaining around that number for several months. As the stimulus took effect, however, the inflation rate rapidly increased, jumping from 5.4 percent in September 2021 to 9.1 in June 2022.