Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ronald Klain, is drawing fire after he retweeted a post from a Harvard professor that summed up our top economic issues as only “high-class problems.”
Jason Furman, Harvard’s Aetna professor of the practice of economic policy, said the country would not be faced with these issues if the unemployment rate was still 10%, an apparent reference to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell’s comments early this year when he said the unemployment rate in January was around that number.
Furman said if that unemployment rate was still a reality, the country would have “had a much worse problem.”
Many on social media took issue with Klain’s retweet, claiming that he was, in effect, downplaying the hardships that a whole lot of Americans are experiencing – proving that he, and the Biden administration he represents, are woefully out of touch with the problems of average Americans. This despite Biden having run on a platform of being “the workingman’s president.”
“Struggling to pay for food, fuel, and housing because of rising prices is not a ‘high-class problem,'” Tommy Pigott, the rapid response director for the Republican National Committee, tweeted. “Biden is making everyone worse off, but instead of stopping the damage, their strategy is to try to gaslight Americans.”
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) questioned how the White House chief of staff could be “this out of touch with reality.”
“American families are spending $175+ more per month on living expenses, and the White House’s answer is ‘well it could be worse’?!” the representative tweeted.
Klain’s retweet came soon after President Biden announced a deal to expand operations at the Port of Los Angeles as prices keep climbing and container ships wait to dock in a traffic jam threatening the US economy and holiday shopping.
Prices are jumping in large part because container ships are stranded at ports and because unloaded goods are waiting for trucks, leading to mass shortages and delays that have caused a longer than expected bout of inflation.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) accused the administration of switching up its messaging when it comes to inflation.
“First, the Biden Admin said inflation was a ‘short-term’ issue. Now, it’s a ‘high class’ problem. Products Arkansans need to put food on the table, fuel their homes and cars, get to work, and clothe their kids are NOT ‘high-class’ supplies. They impact family budgets daily,” he tweeted.
The rising costs are eating into worker pay, creating a drag on growth and driving Republican criticism of Biden just as his multitrillion-dollar tax, economic, climate and infrastructure agenda is going through the crucible of congressional negotiations.
Furman later clarified that his comment was not a political analysis but his own “social judgment,” critics slammed Klain for appearing to agree with it and accused him of downplaying urgent issues Americans are dealing with.