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CNBC’s Joe Kernen challenges Buttigieg on inflation

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CNBC anchor Joe Kernen took Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to task on Friday for the Biden administration holding a celebration on the identical day that a worse-than-expected August inflation report caused stocks to tank.

President Biden held a celebration on the White House’s South Lawn on Tuesday to rejoice passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. The event occurred at the same time as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 1,300 points in response to federal data showing prices jumped 8.3% in August.

Kernen initially asked Buttigieg whether he felt it was a “mistake” for the White House to carry the celebration — but he turned more aggressive when the Biden cabinet member argued the party was warranted due to the Democrat-backed laws’s long-term advantages.

“On that day it looked really tone-deaf. What you’re telling me is, just follow the script,” Kernen said.

“’The economy is great, the border is secure, our cities are secure.’ Wouldn’t it’s higher to simply be honest? Wouldn’t it’s higher to simply be honest with the American people in regards to the soup that we’re in right away and we will all attempt to take care of it together?” Kernen added.

Buttigieg stood his ground while touting the Inflation Reduction Act’s investments in climate-related spending and clauses to lower prescription drug costs.

“No one’s saying that we don’t have any problems, but for those who don’t pause and recognize the meaning of one of the significant pieces of laws thus far within the twenty first century, simply because we even have lots of other problems, then I feel you’re really feeding right into a narrative that’s really pulling America down and holding America back,” Buttigieg said.

The conversation shifted to a discussion of the laws’s name, with Kernen questioning why Democratic lawmakers referred to the law because the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Independent analyses have found the laws, with its significant outlays for green energy and health care, can have little to no profit on decades-high inflation.

Buttigieg argued the Inflation Reduction Act can have short- and long-term advantages for inflation.CNBC

“It wasn’t named the Climate Act. You deliberately, and a few people would say erroneously, named it the Inflation Reduction Act and also you’re celebrating it again on a day when, again, we had 40-year highs in inflation,” Kernen said.

“ the way it affects people on the low end of things,” he continued. “It’s like essentially the most insidious problem an economy can face.”

Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg attended the White House’s celebration of the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage.AP

CNBC segmentCNBC’s Joe Kernen pressed Pete Buttigieg to be honest in regards to the impact of inflation.CNBC

 “The worst thing about inflation is it means individuals are paying an excessive amount of by definition for things,” Buttigieg responded. “What this bill does is allow people to pay less for things.”

The Biden administration faced widespread pushback over its response to essentially the most recent Consumer Price Index data.

Earlier this week, CNN cut away from Biden’s speech on the event, with anchors declaring it was “hard to be celebratory” while the stock market was in freefall.

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