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CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona said Sunday on “Inside Politics” that Democrats have been “panicking privately” over President Biden’s inflation messaging for months. 

“Inside Politics” host Abby Philip asked Zanona about a meeting Democrats had with White House aides on the Hill this past week. “How did that go over?” she asked. 

“Not well, to put it mildly, listen, Democrats, they have been panicking privately. They have been saying for months, back in December they started pressing the White House to get a handle on inflation, start talking about this issue,” Zanona said. 

Inflation soared to 8.6% in May, hitting another 40-year high. 

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

INFLATION TIMELINE: MAPPING THE BIDEN ADMIN’S RESPONSE TO RAPID PRICE GROWTH

She said that had been pushing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to get bills on the House floor, “even if its just messaging votes,” in an effort to show voters that they’re acting on it. 

When the officials came to the hill, they told Congress to “blame other people, blame corporate greed, start talking about what we’re doing legislatively to talk about these issues,” according to Zanona.

She said that Democrats did not feel “armed’ with a method on inflation messaging following the meeting, adding that officials were late to the meeting. 

People shop in a supermarket as rising inflation affects consumer prices in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2022. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

People shop in a supermarket as rising inflation affects consumer prices in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2022. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

“Never good to show up late to a meeting like that,” Phillip said. Another panelist said it was “on brand.”

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Wall Street Journal reporter Tarini Parti said earlier in the segment that the president was trying to put a positive spin on the bad economic numbers in doubting that a recession was not inevitable. She compared it to the administration’s early messaging on inflation, when the president and the administration said inflation was “transitory” and that it would subside after a few months.

Biden, during an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, said that a recession was not “inevitable.” 

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about inflation and the economy in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus May 10, 2022, in Washington, D.C. 

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about inflation and the economy in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus May 10, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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He also said that the idea the American Rescue Plan caused inflation was “bizarre.”

“Of course that didn’t happen, so you’re seeing the White House try its best at this point months before the midterm elections to really try to find its footing on inflation messaging, but it really remains to be seen if that’s going to work because voters are struggling every day with gas prices, with food prices. So some sort of pushback from the president can only go so far,” Parti said. 

New York Times correspondent Jonathon Martin said that high gas prices, inflation and more would be hard for Biden to overcome. 

“I think the frustration the Democrats have is that the Biden folks have known this for months now and that there’s still no clear plan to confront it beyond trying to turn the tables on the GOP, but even Biden doesn’t do that consistently. I think that’s another frustration as well,” he continued. 

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Parti also noted that the president has been slow to act and make decisions.

Democrats were frustrated “because he’s so slow in figuring these things out, not just tariffs but also student loans. He’s been sort of slow walking that,” she said. 

The president and his administration have consistently blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and the COVID-19 pandemic for inflation and high gas prices. 

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