Kamala Harris Receives Backlash for Claiming Inflation Reduction Act Distributes ‘Trillions of Dollars’ on American Streets

By: Georgia | Last updated: May 24, 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris recently made headlines during her nationwide Economic Opportunity Tour. 

In Milwaukee, she claimed that the Inflation Reduction Act is “dropping trillions of dollars on the streets of America right now to build back up our roads and our bridges, our sidewalks, to invest in a clean energy economy, to deal with the climate crisis in a way that is about building up adaptation and resilience.” This statement quickly attracted attention for its bold imagery.

Public and Critics React to Harris' Comments

Journalist Tom Elliott responded to Vice President Harris’ comment with skepticism, asking, “Has there ever been a more ironic sentence?” 

Kamala Harris speaks at a podium with the Iowa Democratic Party banner in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

His question captured a common reaction among observers who noted the apparent irony in discussing massive spending in the context of reducing inflation.


Intention of the Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act, as referenced by VP Harris, aims to boost the U.S. economy and address inflation by funding infrastructure and clean energy projects. 

A signing ceremony in a formal room with President Joe Biden seated at a desk, signing a document

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, the phrasing used by Harris to describe the impact of the legislation as trillions of dollars being deployed directly onto streets has led to confusion and criticism.

Social Media Buzzes with Commentary

Following the Vice President’s comments, social media users quickly took to platforms like X, formerly Twitter, to express their opinions, often using humor and sarcasm. 

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at an event, seated on a stage with a blue background that reads "FREEDOM TO THE". She is wearing a pink blazer and holding a microphone, with a focused expression as she speaks

Source: KamalaHarris/X

The remarks about trillions of dollars led to a variety of memes and satirical posts, highlighting the widespread attention the statement received.

VP's Tour Focuses on Economic Policies

Vice President Harris made the controversial statement while highlighting the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act during her Economic Opportunity Tour. 

Kamala Harris shares a joyful hug with President Joe Biden at a rally

Source: KamalaHarris/X

The tour is designed to promote the administration’s efforts to enhance economic opportunities through significant federal investment in infrastructure and renewable energy.

Conservative Commentators Chime In

Vince Coglianese, a conservative radio host, critiqued the statement by sarcastically posting, “Because reducing inflation always involves dropping trillions of dollars on the street!” 

Close-up view of a stack of U.S. dollar bills

Source: Pepi Stojanovski/Unsplash

This reflects a broader criticism from conservative circles about the perceived ineffectiveness of the Inflation Reduction Act in combating inflation.


Suggestions for a Different Name

Chuck Ross, a reporter for the Washington Free Beacon, humorously suggested that the legislation might have been more aptly named the ‘Trillions of Dollars on American Streets Act.’ 

Vice President Kamala Harris stands at a podium with a microphone, speaking at an event

Source: KamalaHarris/X

This indicates a missed opportunity in public relations while critiquing the substance of Harris’ statement.


Academic Perspective Adds to the Debate

David Deavel, a professor and conservative columnist, added his voice to the discussion by offering a satirical comparison.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are on stage, smiling and holding hands raised in celebration at a rally

Source: KamalaHarris/X

He posted, “Because of the Pacifism Now Act, we are bombing Americans from sea to shining sea.” 


Economic Researchers Weigh In

The economic research institute “Just Facts” also responded to Harris’ remarks. 

Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke is speaking at a podium, gesturing with his hands

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They pointed out that the root cause of inflation is, according to former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, “the federal government dropping trillions of dollars on the streets of America,” which reduces the “value of a dollar.”


Further Criticism from Columnists

Phil Kerpen, a columnist, also used sarcasm to express his critique by calling it “A highly logical ‘inflation reduction’ strategy.” 

Vice President Kamala Harris is speaking at a podium with the Presidential Seal. She is wearing a black suit and pearl necklace, with American flags and a decorative background panel behind her

Source: KamalaHarris/X

His comment reflects a segment of the punditry that finds the administration’s approach to inflation counterintuitive.


Online Community Reacts with Memes

Fox News reports that the online response included numerous memes that portrayed VP Harris in imaginative scenarios related to making money appear magically.

Vice President Kamala Harris is seated at a table during a panel discussion. She is speaking into a microphone

Source: KamalaHarris/X

This illustrates how her statement captured the imagination and critical eye of the public.


Ongoing Discussions on Economic Strategy

As discussions continue, the public and experts alike are debating the implications of the Vice President’s statements on the effectiveness of the Inflation Reduction Act. 

President Joe Biden is seated at a desk in the White House, signing a document, surrounded by several applauding dignitaries, including Vice President Kamala Harris

Source: JoeBiden/X

The controversy has sparked a broader conversation about federal spending and its impact on inflation, highlighting divergent views on fiscal policy and economic management.


Will Harris’ Remark Hurt Democrats?

Harris’ “trillions of dollars” remark may affect Joe Biden and the Democrats’ chances of success in Wisconsin in the upcoming elections. But right now, it’s still too early to tell. Besides, some of the people attending the speech where she made the comical remark — 300 people attended, some are Black business owners — were just excited to meet her.

Kamala Harris surrounded by people in Wisconsin


One of them, Jaquilla Allen, met the vice president and seemed to have only nice comments. “It was even more exciting because she looks like me, she’s part of our organization, so it was lovely, just an experience,” Allen said to FOX 6 Milwaukee.


The Significance of the Wisconsin Visit

Aside from the laughs, Harris’ visit to Wisconsin was much more significant than what the critics made it out to be. The latest poll of Wisconsin by New York Times and Sienna College showed President Joe Biden winning over Donald Trump by two points.

Kamala Harris in teal suit shaking hands with D.L. Hughley in light gray suit on stage in front of an audience


But 56% of Wisconsin voters, who are focused on economic issues, thought that Trump would do a better job than Biden about the economy. Only 41% of registered voters in Wisconsin thought Biden would do better.


Republicans Unimpressed

Unsurprisingly, Republicans were unimpressed by Harris’ visit, which occurred a week after Biden’s visit to Racine County in the same state.

Kamala Harris sitting next to Joe Biden in a conference room with a monitor behind them during a meeting with “Investing in America” cabinet

The White House/Wikimedia Commons

State GOP Chair Brian Schimming wrote in a statement, “Every time Kamala Harris visits Wisconsin, voters are reminded of the failed agenda of the Biden Administration. From higher inflation to lower wages, voters know they cannot afford another four years of Biden and Harris in the White House.”


Wisconsin Important for GOP and Dems

Biden and Harris weren’t the only ones to visit Wisconsin recently. Trump also visited the state to campaign in Waukesha, where hundreds of people showed up to the rally to support him.

The city skyline of Milwaukee with several high rises under the evening sky

Tom Barrett/Unsplash

These Wisconsin visits emphasized the state’s reputation as a battleground state for both Republicans and Democrats. In the last two elections, the winning party only won by a small, less-than-1% margin over the other. It would be interesting to see whether Harris’ gaffe will swing the vote the other way in November.


A 'Positive' Spin

But there’s at least something you can get from Harris’ “trillions of dollars” remark. If you want to put a positive spin on this bit of news and Harris’ seemingly skewed logic, consider this a comedic moment that relieves stress from reading or listening to serious news about inflation.

A pop art picture of a smile with bright red lipstick

Nick Fewings/Unsplash

The latest view on inflation, based on the minutes from a policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee Participants on April 30-May 1, is that “while inflation has eased over the past year, in recent months there had been a lack of further progress toward the Committee’s 2 percent objective.”


Inflation Pressures Are Real

With the news that consumers are turning to risky forms of financing to make ends meet, inflation news is hardly optimistic these days. The pressures of inflation are real for many American families, especially for low- and moderate-income households.

A woman covering her face with her hands to signify stress and pressure


The minutes reported, “Many participants noted signs that the finances of low- and moderate-income households were increasingly coming under pressure, which these participants saw as a downside risk to the outlook for consumption. They pointed to increased usage of credit cards and buy-now-pay-later services, as well as increased delinquency rates for some types of consumer loans.”


Harris’ Words as Comic Relief

Therefore, one can say that what Harris said on tour is a comic relief that relieves the tensions and frustrations over the current economic conditions of the United States. And the public can always trust the Vice President to ‘entertain’ us.

Black and white graffiti of a speech bubble with the words Blaw Blaw Blaw on a gray wall

Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

After all, this isn’t the first time Harris has been roasted for saying a verbal gaffe — something awkward, illogical, repetitive, or downright silly. Conservative media has often highlighted Harris’ confused speeches.


Being Repetitive With ‘Passage of Time’

One infamous occasion of Harris being repetitive, and got roasted for it, was when she repeated the expression “passage of time” — four times — while talking about her meeting Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in 2022.

A black T-shirt with a quote saying “The passage of time will significantly pass with time” in white text


What she said was: “The governor and I, we were all doing a tour of the library here and talking about the significance of the passage of time, right, the significance of the passage of time. So, when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time in terms of what we need to do to lay these wires. What we need to do to create these jobs. And there is such great significance to the passage of time when we think about a day in the life of our children.”


Right Wing Critics

Even back then, right wing critics had already been on Harris’ case, mocking her on the platform formerly known as Twitter (now X). Republican congressman Austin Scott posted, ”Biden really should get her permission to put someone else in charge of border security. There has been too much passage of time with nothing being done.”

Scrabble tiles on white surface spelling the word Feedback

Markus Winkler/Pexels

Meanwhile, a Republican former congressional aide, Matt Whitlock, likened Harris’ “passage of time” repetition as something similar to a character in the HBO show, “VEEP,” would say. He wrote, “Kamala Harris on the ‘significance of the passage of time’ is the most VEEP thing we’ve seen in at least a few weeks.”


VEEP Comparisons

Inevitably, people can draw comparisons between Harris and the fictional character played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character in the show. Both being a female vice president, many observers did find similarities between Meyer’s and Harris’ antics.

A side by side photo of Kamala Harris and fictional character Selina Meyer from HBO show Veep


A list of Harris’ statements was compiled just to prove this point. A short example is her response to the Highland Park shooting incident in Illinois, where she argued against the Second Amendment: “We got to take this stuff seriously, as seriously as you are because you have been forced to have taken this seriously.”


Harris Doesn’t Mind Being Compared

But Harris is sanguine about being compared to Selina Meyer. Not only had she met and taken a selfie together with the actress playing Selina, she also talked about it quite openly with late night show host Stephen Colbert.

Two women, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kamal Harris, wearing black dresses taking a selfie together


And when asked by Colbert if she often felt, as Selina Meyer did, “frustrated by the sometimes vague duties of the role,” Harris wisely replied instead, “I have the great privilege of serving with Joe Biden.”


VEEP Creator Sympathetic to Harris’ Position

Despite the memes and the criticisms leveled at Harris, there was at least one person who understood the V.P. ‘s struggles as second-in-command. Armando Iannucci, the Scottish satirist who created the HBO show, said her struggles were more of a consequence of the role, instead of her own capacity for it.

Veep creator Armando Iannucci standing in front of a wall with the writing The Death of Stalin and IFC Films


Iannucci once told Politico his views on Harris, saying, “You’re number two in a world, in a country, that only looks out for number ones. It’s not about her and ultimately it’s up to the president.” But still, it doesn’t hurt for her to be a little bit more careful when discussing something that concerns the lives of millions of Americans. Inflation, after all, is no joke.