Biden’s Spending Ignited Inflation That Fed Can’t Stop, Doug Burgum Says

(Bloomberg) -- North Dakota Governor and long-shot Republican presidential candidate Doug Burgum said the massive stimulus from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that President Joe Biden signed will far outstrip the ability of the US Federal Reserve to curb inflation through higher interest rates.

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“The Fed plays an important role. But right now we can keep raising interest rates but with all this Biden infrastructure money coming to the state, I see it as governor,” Burgum told Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” on Thursday. “We could end up with high interest rates that choke the private sector and still don’t solve the inflation problem.”

Burgum said bids on North Dakota highway projects are coming in 30% higher because of inflation. That federal spending, he added, crowds out investment by companies.

He declined to follow the lead of rivals like former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in their criticism of Fed Chairman Jay Powell. While Trump told Fox News he wouldn’t reappoint Powell, Burgum refused to speculate about future appointments.

Earlier: Burgum Makes Republican Debate With Help of Polls and Gift Cards

The 67-year-old governor was elected to a second term in 2020 with the help of an endorsement from Trump, who said he was “doing a phenomenal job” and was a “true conservative.” But Burgum has largely avoided talking about the former president and frontrunner, comparing the Republican primaries to a corporate job interview and said a large pool of candidates was good for the process. In fact, he thinks it should be enlarged.

He’s one of eight candidates who has qualified for the first debate in Milwaukee Wednesday. “That’s a pretty small pool. If this were the private sector, we’d be reposting,” he said.

Burgum acknowledged that he has the lowest name recognition of any candidate to qualify for the debate, polling at no higher than 1% in national polls. He’s performing better in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where his campaign and affiliated super political action committee have spent nearly $11 million on advertisements.

He became a billionaire after selling his company, then called Great Plains Software, to Microsoft in 2001, but said he can’t entirely self-finance his campaign and needs a broad base of donors. He is also the co-founder of Arthur Ventures, a software venture capital group named for his hometown of Arthur, North Dakota.

His business experience is one of the key selling points of his campaign. Burgum is perhaps best known for qualifying for the debate after reaching the 40,000-donor threshold with the help of an unusual $20 gift card giveaway with every $1 donated. Burgum said it was an “entrepreneurial way” to meet the debate requirements and that he’d do it again, arguing it’s better to give $20 to supporters than $100 to political consultants.

He’s running in the Republican primaries on a campaign mantra of “economy, energy policy and national security.”

As far as foreign policy, he said sanctions against Russia have been a failure because they’ve effectively given China a 20% discount on Russian oil. “If you sanction something and only less than half the world’s economy goes along with you, it’s not really a sanction,” he said. “We’re subsidizing our No. 1 competitor. We’re in a cold war with China, and we’re in an actual proxy war with Russia, and some of these policies are benefiting our adversaries.”

North Dakota is an energy-producing state, and Burgum champions domestic energy production as a way to grow the economy. “If you cared about the environment you would want every ounce of energy produced in our country because we can do it cleaner, better and safer,” he said. “The energy policies are empowering dictators.”

--With assistance from Annmarie Hordern and Kailey Leinz.

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