Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered a hawkish message to Congress: inflation will continue to rise during the rest of this year, making it less likely that the Fed will change the benchmark interest rate. Partly because of the housing slump and rising energy costs, Fed officials predict the economy to grow slower than expected this year and next.
At the hearing, some Democratic lawmakers complained that Bernanke was ignoring their primary economic concern: rising inequality and stagnating wages. They cited studies showing the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Bernanke's response was to point to different studies that show middle-class Americans are generally much better off now than they were two decades ago.