CNBC’s Joe Kernen grilled Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons on Friday over Congress’ last two years of spending.
Kernen and Coons were discussing the economy on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Kernen noted the Fed is trying to cool consumer spending and slow down the economy in order to create a soft landing while trying to avoid a recession.
“We’ve spent so much money for the past two years that we have 40-year highs in inflation and that — you know, that’s not people that are being affected by this that’s not their fault, that’s Congress’ fault or the administration’s fault, do you agree?” Kernen asked.
“Joe, I’m not sure what your question is but let me-” Coons began before Kernen interjected.
“Do you think you spent too much money over the past two years, which is causing inflation, which is bringing us into probably a recession because we’ve overspent?”
Coons explained how businesses were shut down during the pandemic and his constituents demanded relief, which led Congress to act.
“Okay, the the next three multi-trillion dollar outlays,” Kernen shot back.
“It wasn’t pandemic,” Kernen said. “The other stuff wasn’t pandemic related. It wasn’t assisting people, it was optional. It was optional spending that Democrats wanted to do and got it with- on not a bipartisan basis, they got it because they had 50-50 in the Senate.”
Coons then tried to defend the new omnibus bill, which passed 68-29.
“So the bill that we’re talking about today, $1.7 trillion, got a strong bipartisan margin in the Senate yesterday,” Coons said. “I think it reflects the balanced priorities of both parties. And, yes, we are spending a lot of money, but frankly, we had 3.2% growth this quarter. We have record-low unemployment. We have a tight labor market and I think there’s a real chance we will see what you just referred to as a ‘soft landing’ in the coming year. I’ll put it this way. Our economy is strong. Our country is strong.” (RELATED: Here Are The 18 Senate Republicans Who Voted For $1.7 Trillion Omnibus Bill)
“It is not inexpensive for us to have the world’s most capable military and for us to provide support for manufacturing, for health care, for education.”
The Senate voted Thursday to pass the $1.7 trillion omnibus package that includes hundreds of billions in defense and domestic spending. Several Republicans spoke out against the massive legislation, saying there was not enough time to read the legislation and calling the process rushed.
Among the earmarked items included a minimum of $575 million toward “family planning” and “reproductive health,” including in areas where population growth “threatens biodiversity.” It also included the creation of a new “pandemic czar,” $1.2 million for centers that support LGBTQ students at San Diego Community College District and millions toward other LGBTQ initiatives.