Biden vows to tackle inflation, criticizes GOP

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
President Biden speaks at United Performance Metals in Hamilton, Ohio, on May 6, 2022. The Biden administration announced that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to low-income Americans, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy.

President Biden on Tuesday vowed to tackle surging inflation, calling it his “top domestic priority” and seeking to contrast his economic agenda with that of the Republican Party.  

“I know that families all across America are hurting because of inflation,” Biden said in a speech from the White House. “I want every American to know that I am taking inflation very seriously and it’s my top domestic priority.” 

Biden discussed at length actions his administration is taking to address high prices, such as efforts to reduce the backlog of goods at America’s ports to boost the nation’s trucking workforce. He also mentioned the historic release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve meant to ease gas prices.  

“My plan is already in motion,” Biden said.  

“Republicans have offered plenty of blame, but not a single solution to actually bring down the energy prices,” Biden said. “They have no plan to bring down energy prices today, no plan to get us to a cleaner energy independent future tomorrow.”  

Biden’s address was in large part devoted to contrasting his plans with a proposal put forth by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who chairs the Senate GOP campaign arm.  

A controversial proposal Scott put forth earlier this year calls for imposing federal income taxes on Americans who currently pay none and sunsetting all federal legislation after five years, presumably including programs like Social Security and Medicaid, among other ideas.  

Democrats have attacked the proposal, while other Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) have distanced themselves from it.  

Still, the White House has cast the plan as representative of the entire Republican Party. McConnell has declined to put forth his own policy agenda ahead of the looming November midterm elections.  

Biden assailed Scott’s plan on Tuesday as an “ultra MAGA plan” — a reference to former President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan — that would raise taxes on working Americans while benefiting billionaires and corporations.  

“What’s the congressional Republican plan? They don’t want to solve inflation by lowering your costs. they want to solve it by raising your taxes and lowering your income,” Biden said.  

Scott responded in real time to Biden’s remarks, needling the president for mixing up what state he represents during the speech. Biden misidentified Scott as a Republican from Wisconsin.  

Scott branded Biden as “incapacitated and incoherent.” In an earlier statement issued ahead of the speech, Scott urged Biden to resign to “solve the inflation crisis.”  

“I think the man has a problem,” Biden said of Scott when asked to respond to his comments after the speech.  

The speech was the latest example of Biden more aggressively criticizing Republicans months out from the midterm elections, as Democrats try to make the election more of a choice rather than a referendum on his first year in office.  

It was also part of the White House’s effort to assuage simmering concerns about the inflation fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain problems it caused. Economists say the pandemic-related government spending also contributed to inflation. And rising prices have also been exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.  

The average cost of gasoline has risen to $4.374 per gallon, according to data from AAA on Tuesday, another record high.  

Biden’s poll numbers have remained deflated amid widespread frustration with the economy. The White House has struggled to sell good news about the economic recovery as worries about high prices consume Americans.  

Biden acknowledged Tuesday in response to a reporter’s question that Americans fault his administration for not doing enough to combat inflation because Democrats are in power, but he noted that the 50-50 split in the Senate has prevented him from enacting some major policy initiatives.  

Biden sympathized with the public frustration about inflation, but he also said he believed his policies had helped — not hurt — the current situation.  

“They’re frustrated and I don’t blame them, I really don’t blame them,” Biden said.  

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters later Tuesday that Biden believes the main drivers of inflation are COVID-19 and Russia’s war in Ukraine, and that the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan was necessary to help the economy recover during the pandemic.  

Updated at 3:00 p.m.

Tags inflation Joe Biden Mitch McConnell President Joe Biden Rick Scott Rick Scott

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