Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday and warned that the Fed might increase rates higher this month to control inflation. Powell stressed that the central bank is prepared to raise interest rates higher than previously expected and pick up the pace of increases in the face of hotter-than-expected economic data. "The latest economic data have come in stronger than expected, which suggests that the ultimate level of interest rates is likely to be higher than previously anticipated," Powell said in his prepared remarks. "If the totality of the data were to indicate that faster tightening is warranted, we would be prepared to increase the pace of rate hikes." [tweet_embed]March 09, 2023[/tweet_embed] Responding to Powell's testimony, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana criticized President Joe Biden's handling of the economy and argued that Powell understands the cost of inflation to the job market but "can't say it." [tweet_embed]March 09, 2023[/tweet_embed] "President Biden persists in saying that a honey bun costs $20 and your 401(k) is crashing because the economy is so good. No one believes that because it's not true, and the American people aren't stupid," Kennedy said. "President Biden's inflation is pernicious. It is a cancer on the American dream, and we're not going to get it down without costing millions of people their jobs unless Congress helps on the fiscal side by reducing the rate of growth of spending and reducing the rate of growth of debt accumulation. And Powell knows that. He can't say it. And anyone who knows an economics textbook from an L.L. Bean catalog knows that." The Fed's campaign to combat inflation has been the most aggressive since the 1980s. Although the consumer price index has slowly fallen from a high of 9.1% in June, it remains about three times higher than the pre-pandemic average. Officials voted in February to raise the benchmark interest rate a quarter percentage point from 4.5% to 4.75% and signaled that a "couple more" increases are on the table this year. This followed a half-point increase at their December meeting and four consecutive 75-basis-point moves before that.