White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday defended Joe Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain once again after he called inflation a ‘high class’ problem, vouching for his concern about rising prices.
She also batted back a question about a 2018 tweet by Klain rapping Vice President Mike Pence by referencing the price of a can of Campbell’s Soup.
‘I can tell you from sitting in a lot of meetings with Ron Klain day in and day out, he is obsessed with lowering costs for the American people, and that’s driven from the president,’ she said.
She was asked Friday in an interview on CNN about Klain’s 2018 tweet, which came when Pence was touting the Trump tax cuts in Michigan.
‘Will he hold up a Campbell Soup can and argue that price increases for basic food items really don’t hurt the middle class?’ Klain asked. ‘Because I think that is the Trump admin economic message of the day.’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday defended White House Chief of Staff for his tweets about inflation
That tweet missive was a ding at Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who held up a can of soup during an interview to argue that new Trump tariffs on aluminum and steel wouldn’t have much impact.
Host Jake Tapper told her a lot of people might say, ‘Why did Ron Klain think that rising prices was a serious concern under Trump and not under Biden?’
She said the administration was trying to increase agricultural competition, get ports up and running, and working with industry and labor to move goods. ‘This is our focus every single day,’ she said. And she said in meetings every day Klain is pushing to do more.
Psaki got asked about a Klain tweet from 2018 chiding the Trump administration for being tone deaf on inflation. He tweeted that inflation and supply chain issues were a ‘high class’ problem linked to the recovery
Her defense came after Psaki backed up Klain at Thursday’s White House press briefing. She said Klain’s pot-stirring Twitter habits are ‘not a top priority’ after the White House chief of staff claimed Thursday that inflation is a problem for the rich.
Klain claimed Wednesday evening that the current U.S. economic issues, including inflation and supply chain delays, are just ‘high class problems’. It was a missive meant designed to convey that U.S. economic performance could be a lot worse than it is, with inflation linked to growth.
But it came on a day when the White House had organized a Biden event meant to demonstrate he was keenly focused on the issue and attuned to holdups that could put holiday shopping and deliveries at risk.
Two former White House chiefs of staff weighed in Wednesday against the idea of Joe Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain’s active Twitter use – in a warning Klain would ignore just hours later, leaving White House trying to explain away his missive on inflation.
Josh Bolten, who served as chief of staff to President George W. Bush, noted in a panel discussion this week that he deliberately kept a low public profile, and said flatly Klain’s public tweets weren’t the best use of his time.
‘I would never have done that. And frankly I don’t know how he does it – how he actually keeps up with what he’s supposed to be focused on, which I think he is keeping up, and doing all this public communicating at the same time,’ he said in a discussion at American University’s Sine Institute of Policy & Politics.
He spoke of how ‘an errant tweet from Ron Klain can throw a news cycle spinning off in a bad direction.’
Former White House chiefs of staff Josh Bolten and Jack Lew warned against current chief Ron Klain’s frequent tweets – hours before Klain ‘liked’ a tweet about inflation and supply chains
‘I’m both impressed and sort of unimpressed that he gives a significant amount of his time to that,’ Bolten weighed in. Bolten now chairs the Business Roundtable.
Former Barack Obama Chief of Staff Jack Lew also argued against the idea, telling interviewer Tara Palmeri he doesn’t maintain a Twitter account.
‘I don’t think that’s a good way for public policy to be made,’ he said of Twitter generally.
‘I personally think senior officials should have mediated social media presences, if they have them at all, and avoid getting into the back and forth,’ said Lew. But he noted that Klain has schooled numerous Democratic presidential candidates in debate prep sessions and that ‘Ron is as good of a debater as you’re going to find.’
He said he was as good as anyone at ‘not making mistakes – but you don’t get to make any mistakes.’
White House chief of staff Ron Klain liked a tweet calling inflation and supply chain issues a ‘high class problems’
He was responding to a tweet from Obama’s former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers who said problems would be ‘much worse’ if the unemployment rate was still 10%
Klain also retweeted a post from Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy on claiming people are quitting their jobs to start better jobs as minimum wage jobs see a shortage of workers
Jason Furman, a Harvard Economics professor and former chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, tweeted: ‘Most of the economic problems we’re facing (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high class problems.’
‘We wouldn’t have had them if the unemployment rate was still 10 percent,’ he added of earlier rates. ‘We would instead have had a much worse problem.’
Klain retweeted the post along with, ‘This’ and two emoji fingers pointing down to the tweet – indicating his agreement.
Asked about the tweet, Psaki said that Klain’s Twitter ‘Is not a top priority at this point in time.’
‘The chief of staff is out there speaking on his own accord … as any chief of staff does. I think it’s also important for anyone here to be able to tout points that they find interesting that’s the purpose of public speech.’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confusingly said Wednesday inflation has fallen by 50% in recent months, despite Labor Department numbers showing compared to September 2020, consumer prices have risen 5.4 per cent
Still, Psaki had a lengthy answer at the ready to explain away Klain’s tweet.
‘The point here is some of these critics … we don’t know if they’re saying that what they thought was great was when the unemployment rate was double what it is today, or when people were locked in their homes and therefore gas prices were lower. We’re at this point because the unemployment rate has come down and has been cut in half because people are buying more goods, because people are traveling, because demand is up, and because the economy is turning back on.’
Klain was back on Twitter Friday, tweeting about vaccines and economic policy.
On Thursday, after she was questioned by reporters about Klain’s tweet, Psaki appeared on the Pod Save America podcast, which features two Obama administration alumni.
When co-host Jon Favreau said the hosts would ‘GRILL’ her on Klain’s tweets, she responded with a plug for Biden’s stalled reconciliation bill.
‘I also spilled the details on all of the good stuff we are trying to get passed (hint: we love clean drinking water, access to broadband for everyone, universal pre-k, electric vehicles, paid leave and tackling the climate crisis) and how WhiteHouse is different under COVID.’
Klain’s tweet had drawn sharp outcry from Republicans.
‘As long as we’re on the subject of class, it appears Mr Klain and the entire Biden White House missed Economics 101,’ Republican Georgia Representative Buddy Carter told DailyMail.com on Thursday.
‘Inflation hurts working families and seniors on fixed incomes the most while their runaway spending is leaving all our children and grandchildren under a crushing mountain of debt to China,’ he continued.
GOP Representative Byron Donalds of Florida told Daily Mail that the comments from Klain are indicative of the ‘tone-deafness’ of the Biden administration.
‘The cluelessness embroiling the White House stems from the top down, and that is evident with the tone-deaf statements coming from the Press Secretary and Chief of Staff,’ he said.
‘While they ignore the reality of Biden’s failed economic agenda, everyday Americans feel the pain of Bidenomics at the pump, grocery store, and just about every aspect of daily life,’ the congressman continued. ‘The American people are not better off today than before Biden got into office, and skyrocketing inflation is one of the many reasons this is the case.’
Klain also retweeted a post Wednesday from Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who wrote: ‘In an economy that gives power to workers, not just employers, people quit their jobs all the time to start better jobs. Economic mobility is a good thing. Not a bad thing.’
Prices are surging in the U.S., in one part due to ships being stranded at ports as they wait for trucks to take the shipping containers, which is leading to shortages and delays and further exacerbating rising inflation.