Yellen Appears On ABC For Interview

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen addresses the Economic Club of Washington in Washington December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES - TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - TB3EBC21I057Z

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen faced tough questions on Sunday regarding why voters remain unhappy with the economy under President Joe Biden, just months before his anticipated rematch with former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

Jonathan Karl, co-anchor of ABC News's “This Week,” pointed out Yellen's previous comments highlighting positive macroeconomic indicators in the U.S.

“The rate of inflation is coming down. Unemployment is low. The economy’s growing. But why is it then that voters seem so unsatisfied?” Karl asked. “And in fact, in poll after poll, voters say they trust Donald Trump with the economy more than Joe Biden. What’s going on?”

Yellen acknowledged the hardships that linger from the pandemic era. “The pandemic was a profoundly difficult time,” she said. “In the years leading up to the pandemic, many working-class families were struggling with healthcare costs, energy costs, education costs, childcare costs.”

She emphasized that the inflation experienced post-pandemic has exacerbated these feelings of financial strain, particularly in housing, which remains unaffordable in many areas. Yellen stressed that addressing these costs is a top priority for the Biden administration.

Karl pressed further, highlighting the tangible impacts of inflation on everyday goods. “The rate of inflation is coming down, but overall inflation is up 19% since President Biden took office,” he noted. “The price of eggs is up 84%; ground beef, up 30%; bread, up 27%. These prices aren’t returning to where they were.”

Yellen conceded that prices have significantly increased over the last three years but pointed out that the rate of inflation is now nearly normal.

“Yes, Americans see that, and it adds to the concerns about costs that were already making life difficult,” she said. However, she also mentioned that wages have risen during this period. “Government studies show that, for households at all income levels, wages have increased slightly more than prices, so the typical American is somewhat better off.”

Karl also brought up Trump's proposal to replace federal income taxes with tariffs. Yellen dismissed this idea, stating, “It would require tariffs well over 100%. The impact would make life unaffordable for working-class Americans and would harm American businesses.”

In essence, while the Biden administration is working to tackle these economic challenges, the lingering effects of the pandemic and the substantial price increases in everyday goods contribute to voter dissatisfaction. Yellen's comments aimed to reassure that efforts are being made to improve affordability and that wage increases have somewhat mitigated the impact of rising costs.

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