CNBC's Rick Santelli rips Biden administration's evolving excuses for inflation: 'Now we're at Putin'

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CNBC’s Rick Santelli analyzed the increase in inflation in the U.S. by questioning President Biden’s many explanations for the economic issue that is causing Americans to look twice at their budgets.

“Lets hearken back to all the things we’ve been through,” Santelli, a CNBC Business News editor, said during a “Squawk Box” segment after saying that nothing was “more politicized than inflation.” 

“First it was transitory,” he said. “Then ‘inflation is good.’ Then we went to corporate greed, now we’re at Putin.”

High gas prices are posted at a full service gas station in Beverly Hills, California, on Nov. 7, 2021.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

“Listen, it’s probably all the above, but no matter how you slice it, it’s all about commodities for the most part. And king commodity is energy and most people in the United States are reminded of that, about what, every three to four days when they go fill up their tanks,” Santelli continued. 

Inflation hit another 40-year high Thursday as it rose 7.9% in February. Though prices rose in nearly every category of goods, gas jumped 6.6%, which accounts for almost a third of the price increases. Fruit and vegetable prices climbed 2.3%, which is the largest monthly increase since 2010.

President-elect Joe Biden speaks after a meeting with governors in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 19, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden put the blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin for inflation, as he has for rising gas prices in recent days. Biden tweeted Thursday that the inflation report was a “reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike.”

Biden reiterated again hours later that a large contributor to inflation was “an increase in gas and energy prices as markets reacted to Putin’s aggressive actions.” He said he was fighting to bring the prices down. 

Several media outlets pointed out that these were pre-war numbers. Christine Romans, CNN’s chief business correspondent, noted that inflation was “accelerating” before Russia invaded Ukraine. Steven Rattner, an economic analyst for “Morning Joe” and contributing writer for the New York Times, said “well, no” in response to Biden’s claim that Putin is to blame.

Rattner said the most recent numbers “only include small Russia effect,” and that this was “Biden’s inflation and he needs to own it.”

Biden offered conflicting statements on Wednesday about what he would do for Americans struggling to pay for gas. 

“I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home,” Biden said, before saying hours later that he “can’t do much” about the gas prices. 

White House press secretary defended Biden and said that his “short gaggles” when the president is getting into a car or getting ready to travel are not “always super comprehensive.”

Press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Nov. 12, 2021.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Members of the Biden administration have continued to use the phrase “Putin’s price hike” to describe the numbers at the pump. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield also used the term and said on Twitter that the president was going to do everything he can to “shield Americans” from price increases. 

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