As inflation hits a rate unseen in the lifetime of a majority of the public, voters are quickly growing critical of President Joe Biden's handling of the economy.

Despite repeated assurances that rising prices would be transitory and that the $2.4 trillion Build Back Better bill will eventually ease inflationary pressures, polls show the public losing confidence in the Biden administration as 2021 draws to a close.


The latest CNBC All-America Economic survey found Biden's economic approval ratings further underwater, with just 37% approving and 56% disapproving, down from 40% approval in the previous survey. Inflation has solidly eclipsed COVID-19 as the top concern for respondents despite rising cases and hospitalizations and uncertainty about the omicron variant.

Consumer prices increased 6.8% for the year ending in November, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest pace of inflation in 39 years. Inflation has held above 5% for each of the last six months, coming in the wake of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This week's much-anticipated numbers from the consumer price index came in above expectations, adding pressure for the Biden team to turn around its sagging approval ratings.

The CNBC poll found Republicans boasting a 10-point advantage on the question of who should control Congress, a record in the poll's 20-year history.

A separate poll from the Wall Street Journal found that 56% said inflation was causing them major or minor stress, with more than half listing gas and groceries among their greatest concerns. More than 60% rated the overall economy as either "poor" or "not good," and a 39% plurality cited the Biden administration as the main cause of rising prices.

For months, the Federal Reserve maintained that the higher inflation would be temporary but now appears to see the price increases as too much to stomach. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said he thinks it is time to retire the word “transitory."

The White House continues to insist that inflation will ease and that the Build Back Better bill will aid in the transition. Biden repeatedly notes that 17 Nobel laureates in economics sent him a letter saying the proposals would actually reduce inflation over time.

Friday, the White House touted another letter, this one signed by 56 economists, calling on Congress to pass the social spending bill. It doesn't claim the act will directly ease inflation but rather that it will mitigate its effect on families.

“Congress can alleviate some of the strain caused by inflation by passing the Build Back Better Act, which will lower everyday costs for families, including child care, health care, utility bills, prescription drugs, and education," the letter reads. "These investments, combined with the Build Back Better Act’s tax credits for the middle class, will help allow families to keep more money in their pockets.”

Whether or not the public believes them is another question. As the polls show, continuing price hikes are undermining the public's confidence in the Biden economy, whether warranted or not.


“Given historic government spending and the trillions of additional spending proposed, Americans have good reason to worry about inflation — and higher prices across the board confirm those fears," Heritage Foundation senior fellow Joel Griffith said in a statement.

Griffith also doubts that the Build Back Better Act or any other anticipated Biden moves will deflate swelling costs soon.

“Make no mistake, these enormous expansions of government spending by the left will come at a cost," he said. "Americans will pay either through direct taxation, higher borrowing costs, or the hidden tax of inflation. This inflation tax can be the most destructive and painful of all.”