Biden says inflation is his ‘top priority’

President Biden, on the defense for months against rising inflation, sought on Tuesday to convince Americans that he understood the pain they were feeling from rising prices and that his administration was taking steps to cope with rising costs of fuel, food and other goods.

Mr Biden delivered his remarks a day before another economic report was supposed to show uncomfortably high prices. While the Consumer Price Index, to be released on Wednesday morning, may show inflation has cooled somewhat from March, most economists still expect the report to show inflation greater than 8%.

“I know families across America are hurting because of inflation. I understand what that does,” Biden said, adding that his administration was trying to drive down prices by easing supply chain congestion, cracking down on price gouging and releasing oil from the strategic reserve. of petroleum.

Yet these efforts have done little to rein in inflation, which is at its fastest pace in 40 years, the result of tangled supply chains that have led to shortages of goods, war in Ukraine, driving up energy prices and soaring consumer demand.

While the president’s ability to fight inflation is limited — the primary tools for fighting rising prices lie with the Federal Reserve — rising costs have become a talking point for Republicans and a political liability for Mr. Biden, whose approval ratings have plummeted. .

Republicans have spent months blaming Mr. Biden for the price hike, seeing him as a winning question ahead of the midterm elections.

“Biden may be living in an alternate reality, but voters aren’t, which is why they’re only blaming Biden and the Democrats for the rising prices they’re seeing for everyday consumer goods, gasoline and groceries,” said Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee. . “The economy is on the ballot in November, and voters know Biden and the Democrats are only making it worse.”

On Tuesday, Mr Biden tried to turn the argument around, lambasting Republicans for complaining about rising prices while offering ‘extreme’ policy ideas he said would help the wealthiest Americans and big business rather than working families.

Seeking to turn the debate on the economy against his opponents six months before the midterm congressional elections, Mr Biden has targeted what he has called the “ultra-MAGA agenda”, a phrase he has increasingly used in recent days in reference to former President Donald J. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

“Listen, the bottom line is this. Americans currently have two options. Reflecting two different sets of values,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at the White House. “My plan tackles inflation and grows the economy by cutting costs for working families, giving workers well-deserved raises, reducing the deficit to historic levels and forcing big business and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

“The other way is the ultra-MAGA plan proposed by congressional Republicans to raise taxes on working families, cut incomes for working Americans, threaten the hallowed programs Americans rely on like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. and giving break after break to big business and billionaires.

Mr. Biden cited a program called the “11-Point Plan to Save America” ​​presented by Senator Rick Scott of Florida, chairman of the Republican National Senate Committee. But other Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party’s minority leader, rejected elements of that plan, which Mr. Scott presented as a platform for the midterm elections.

Mr Biden blamed the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine for inflation. He claimed credit for reducing the federal deficit and encouraged higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, saying they hadn’t paid their fair share. He also blamed energy companies for making profits without increasing production, which he said they could do.

“I know families all over America are hurting because of inflation,” he said. “I understand how it feels. I come from a family where when the price of gas or food went up, you felt it.

He added: “I want every American to know that I take inflation very seriously and it is my top priority.”

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