President Biden has yet to benefit from moderating inflation, and data set for release on Thursday could complicate the White House’s attempts to show progress on rising prices.
The Consumer Price Index is expected to show that overall inflation climbed slightly more quickly in December than in November on a yearly basis.
Yet “core” inflation — a key measure that strips out volatile food and energy prices — is expected to have climbed 3.8 percent over the year through December, down from 4 percent in November. If that happened, it would be the first time that the core index had dropped below 4 percent since May 2021.
But that moderation has not stopped Mr. Biden’s rivals from using high prices as a cudgel to criticize his economic stewardship.
This week, former President Donald J. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, blamed Mr. Biden for rising prices as he campaigned in Iowa before Monday’s caucuses there.
“Our Middle Class is being crushed by Biden’s crippling inflation,” Mr. Trump said on the website Truth Social.
Polls have shown that voters have a downbeat view of Mr. Biden’s economic record. Despite a strong labor market, higher costs and interest rates have left Americans feeling poorer.
The politics of inflation have also infiltrated the Republican primary race, with Mr. Trump’s leading rivals, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, suggesting that Mr. Trump’s big spending policies when he was president set the stage for higher prices.
“When it comes to our economy and getting inflation under control, the first thing we need to do is claw back the over $100 billion of unspent Covid dollars that are still out there,” Ms. Haley said during a town hall hosted by CNN this week.
Mr. DeSantis, at a Fox News town hall this week, blamed lawmakers from both parties for borrowing too much money during the pandemic, but said rising incomes in his state were helping people cope with “Biden inflation.”
Senior Biden administration officials are hopeful that as inflation moderates, voters will feel better about the economy.
“The Biden administration is doing everything it can to lower costs that affect Americans,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen told reporters at an event in Virginia on Monday. “I think sentiment will improve over time.”