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Week in politics: Biden holds that inflation will be a short-term issue

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Consumer prices rose last month at the fastest pace in 40 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's a real bump in the road. It does affect families. When you walk in the grocery store and you're paying more for whatever you're purchasing, it matters. It matters to people.

SIMON: President Biden speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday. Joined now by NPR's Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: A real bump in the road - is the president confident that inflation will be short-lived or merely hopeful?

ELVING: He surely hopes it's short-term. Biden is old enough to remember when we last saw such a bump in the road back in 1982. Ronald Reagan was president. Reagan lost 26 seats in the House that year. If Biden loses even a handful next year, that would end the current Democratic majority there. So Biden would much rather talk about a different number - the new claims for unemployment benefits. Last week, those were the lowest we've seen since 1969. And Wall Street continues to soar, loving the jobs numbers and taking the inflation in stride for now. The question is, which numbers will we be talking about in six months?

SIMON: On to Congress now. Did they seem to put the gas on a bit this week to take care of business?

ELVING: The prospect of a holiday recess does tend to focus the mind. The Senate found another creative way around the debt ceiling without too much fuss and without making Republicans vote for it. And you know these little scenarios they play out whenever they really need to lift the debt ceiling or keep the government open? They reinforce a certain attitude people have about Congress - like they have all these rules until they really need to do something, and then they just do it.

SIMON: Some developments this week in the January 6 investigation - the House panel seemed a step closer to getting a look at pertinent records from the Trump White House.

ELVING: Federal appeals court for the District of Columbia was unanimous in saying Trump cannot withhold official records after he's no longer president. Not a surprise, but the three-judge panel also basically gave Trump's lawyers just two weeks to get a review from the U.S. Supreme Court. And that's where this case is headed.

SIMON: Yesterday, the committee issued more subpoenas.

ELVING: Yes, they issued six more subpoenas. This committee is not tiptoeing around. They want the whole story, and they're prepared to use all their powers and those of the Justice Department to get there, so six new subpoenas to people who had been working around the former president prior to the rally and riot on January 6. So we'll see if they agree to cooperate or if they join with others in refusing to comply and risking criminal penalties for doing so.

This past week, we saw some more media grandstanding from Steve Bannon, and we saw more intrigue around Mark Meadows - that's Trump's last chief of staff - and how various conspiracy theorists tried to get in touch with him to give him, share with him some of their stuff. And Meadows has turned some of this material over to the committee, but he continues to refuse to testify himself.

SIMON: Ron, let me broach a (laughter) political question to you. Recognizing that a lot of the revelations we've heard about January 6 have in and of themselves been serious, do you see an indication yet that, serious as they are, they have been of political damage to former President Trump and what I guess can only be called the movement that has formed around him?

ELVING: The question is whether or not there is really anything that could disturb that movement in the sense that they have become a belief system, and they are pretty good at shutting out all other information about what happened. And it just doesn't seem to matter whatever the committee comes up with and whatever is testified to because people just aren't listening to that side of the story. And as far as Donald Trump is concerned, he is still telling us the same things he was telling us a year ago and finding the same audience.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much for being with us.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.