Biden to address inflation as Republicans make it top issue in midterms

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will outline his efforts to fight inflation and lower consumer prices in a speech from the White House Tuesday, addressing a top concern of voters ahead of the midterms.

Biden will summarize the steps his administration has taken, as well as proposed, to try to alleviate the issue, the White House said, and will contrast his agenda with the proposals of Republicans, who have made the economy a top line of attack against Democrats as primary season begins.

The president will discuss rising gas prices that have been stoked in part by Russia’s war in Ukraine — what he has called “Putin’s price hike” — and his effort to lower them by releasing 1 million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the White House said.

President Biden speaks in the Rose Garden on May 9, 2022.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Biden will also call upon Congress to pass measures included in the Build Back Better plan that Democrats were unable to advance last year because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Those include lowering child care and long-term care costs, funding the construction of 1 million affordable homes through tax credits, and passing clean energy and vehicle tax credits that would allow families to save money on their utility bills.

“President Biden has a plan to tackle inflation — by lowering costs that families face and lowering the federal deficit by asking the large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share,” the White House said, contrasting that with a Senate GOP proposal that would require all Americans to pay at least some income tax.

“Congressional Republicans, led by Senator Rick Scott, have called for a new minimum tax on the middle class — firefighters and teachers — that would mean an average of almost $1,500 less in families’ pockets each year,” the White House said.

Scott, of Florida, who chairs the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, released an 11-point plan for GOP candidates to run on in the upcoming midterms. His plan put him at odds with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who opposes parts of Scott’s agenda that would increase income taxes on lower-income Americans and sunset Social Security and Medicare within five years.

Meanwhile, some economists are warning about a possible recession, though many say it’s not imminent or inevitable. To try to slow inflation, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week by 0.5 percent.

Despite the high costs facing Americans, the U.S. labor market has remained strong, with the latest report from April showing that 428,000 jobs were added that month — a greater increase than predicted. Wages have also risen, while the unemployment rate stands at 3.6 percent.