Now inflation is impacting the U.S. ‘readiness’ for WAR: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin orders measure to help struggling military families pay for food and housing amid soaring prices
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday announced increased payments to help personnel cope with surging house rental prices
- ‘This is a readiness issue,’ he said after dire warnings of increasing inflation
- Last week, the Department of Labor said prices had risen 6.2 percent in past year
- The issue has emerged as a test for the Biden administration as it plans trillions of dollars in new spending
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday warned that rising prices for housing and food were affecting the readiness of U.S. armed forces.
Inflation has emerged as one of the biggest issues facing the Biden administration, as ordinary Americans complain about the price of everyday items – from gas to bread.
During a Pentagon briefing, Austin said he was temporarily increasing payments to help troops pay for off-base housing in places where rents had increased by 10 percent or more.
‘This is a readiness issue, and that’s why I’m focused on making sure that our service members and our families have what they need to thrive,’ he said.
Last week the Labor Department revealed that prices were rising at their fastest pace in more than 30 years.
It said prices had increased 6.2 percent year-on-year.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said inflation was a ‘readiness issue’ on Wednesday as he announced help for troops struggling with the rising cost of rent
Inflation has seen prices of ordinary goods rocketing during the past 12 months
Feeding America, which coordinates the work of food banks around the country, estimates that up to 160,000 active duty military members struggle to feed their families
Inflation worries have overtaken concerns about jobs and pay for many Americans, casting a shadow over other more positive economic indicators.
The White House insists the problem is ‘transitory’.
On Wednesday Steven Rattner became the latest Obama-era economic advisor to suggest otherwise.
‘Enough already about about “transitory” inflation,’ Rattner wrote for the New York Times. ‘Last Wednesday’s terrible Consumer Price Index news shifts our inflation prospects strongly into the “embedded” category.’
Austin said troops already had enough to worry about and that ‘basic necessities like food and housing shouldn’t be among them.’
But Feeding America, which coordinates the work of food banks around the country, estimates that up to 160,000 active duty military members struggle to feed their families.
Austin said he had given the undersecretary for personnel 90 days to develop a longer term strategy.
In a memo, he also said the Department of Defense should examine other measures to improve stability for service members, such as extending tour length in some overseas locations when they are accompanied by family.
And it said the Pentagon should take steps to improve financial education and counseling for troops.
The impact on force readiness is just the latest example of how inflation is worrying Washington.
Last President Joe Biden acknowledged the scale of the problem.
The Consumer Price Index rose 6.2 percent in October 2021 from one year prior – the highest it has been since 1990, according to the Department of Labor’s latest report
‘Everything from a gallon of gas a loaf of bread costs more and it’s worrisome even though wages are going up,’ he said during a visit to the port of Baltimore.
‘We still face challenges, we have to tackle them.’
Some economists have warned that his huge spending plans – at a time when the pandemic has triggered shortages – are to blame for increasing pressure on prices.
But Biden has sought to portray his trillion dollar infrastructure plan as a way to ease bottlenecks in supply chains, with better transportation and internet connections.
‘More products are being delivered than ever before,’ he said.
‘That’s because people have little more breathing room than they did last year. And that’s a good thing.
‘But it also means we got higher demand for goods at the same time we’re facing disruptions in the supplies that make those goods.
‘For the rest that’s a recipe for delays and for higher prices and people are feeling it.
‘Did you ever think you’d be paying this much for a gallon of gas?’