Biden Blames Republicans in Congress for Soaring Inflation

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President Biden blamed congressional Republicans for record-high inflation in a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Addressing the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Biden argued that his economic agenda, which relies on massive government spending, would help drive down inflation, and said Republican obstruction of that agenda is to blame for the current economic environment.

“Under my plan for the economy we made extraordinary progress, and put America in a position to tackle a worldwide problem that’s worse everywhere but here: inflation,” Biden said.

“The problem is, Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to stop my plans to bring down costs on ordinary families,” Biden added. “That’s why my plan is not finished, and the results aren’t finished either.”

While congressional Republicans were unanimously opposed to Biden’s Build Back Better social-spending bill, moderate Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona also opposed the plan, making Republican opposition academic. The bill, which the CBO projected would cost $4.5 trillion in new government spending, covered a sprawling range of Democratic priorities, including government-subsidized childcare and higher education, and subsidies to transition the economy to green energy.

Biden touted the American Rescue Plan and bipartisan infrastructure bill during his speech. While those initiatives allocated trillions of dollars in new government spending, Biden said his administration had managed to cut the federal deficit, since the 2020 baseline was inflated by emergency Covid spending.

“By the end of the fiscal year, we will have cut the federal deficit by another $1.6 trillion. In one year!” Biden said. “So when they come to you and talk about big spenders, let ’em know: almost $2 trillion in deficit reduction. I don’t want to hear any more of these lies about reckless spending—we’re changing people’s lives!”

Former Treasury secretary Larry Summers warned in early 2021 that the American Rescue Plan could overheat the economy, and has since warned of the high risk of inflation and criticized the Federal Reserve’s handling of inflation. The consumer price index hit 8.6 percent in May over the previous twelve months, the highest increase in four decades.

The president said he is working to “convince other nations to join us” and release additional oil supplies into the global market to curb high fuel prices, and is coordinating with European nations to extract “20 million tons of grain locked in Ukraine out onto the market.” Grain harvests from Ukraine cannot be shipped out of ports on the Black Sea because of ongoing fighting in the Russia–Ukraine war.

Biden’s remarks on Tuesday echoed a speech on Friday at the Port of Los Angeles, in which he said the economy is strong enough to counter the effects of inflation.

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