President Joe Biden highlighted rising prices at the White House on Tuesday when he outlined his plan to fight inflation, which Republicans cited as a serious flaw in his record when Democrats go to the polls this year.
On Tuesday, Biden pointed to a three-part plan to combat rising prices: lower the price of gas and produce more energy at home, address day-to-day spending on things like prescription drugs and food, and ask Congress to impose a tax on the richest Americans.
“I want every American to know that I take inflation very seriously, and that’s my top domestic priority,” Biden said. “My plan is to take concrete steps of common sense to cut the biggest costs families face.”
He said the same day that U.S. gas prices had reached another record high of $ 4,374 a gallon, and a day before a key monthly consumer price report was due to be released on Wednesday.
The president once again drew a contrast between his efforts and the Republican plan outlined by Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, which could raise taxes on about 75 million Americans and halt federal programs such as Social Security.
“Republicans have proposed many culprits, but no solution to actually lower energy prices,” Biden said Tuesday.
Experts say there are no easy steps the president can take to lower prices.
“The impact the president can have on inflation is quite limited, especially in the short term,” said Benjamin Page, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Center for Tax Policy. “First, it will take some time and cooperation with Congress, and second, I think it’s just limited to what you can do through tax and spending policies.”
However, on Tuesday Biden pointed to some of his latest steps and policy proposals he had put forward to Congress to help lower prices.
The president first noted his efforts to lower gas prices, including allowing an average of 1 million barrels of oil a day from the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve, which in coordination with allies is expected to supply 240 million barrels of oil to the market within the next six months.
Biden noted that much of the failure in the oil market has occurred recently due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March showed a price increase of 8.5% over the previous year, the highest in 40 years since the US imposed sanctions on Russian oil.
Emissions from the reserve have lowered prices slightly, but the announcement from European countries that they will also look at a ban on Russian oil has contributed to new growth.
On Tuesday, Biden also spoke of his efforts to reduce the cost of everyday goods, such as food, another sector affected by both the war in Ukraine and the supply chain disruptions associated with the pandemic.
“Currently, 20 million tons of grain are stored in silos in Ukraine,” Biden said. “We are working with our European partners to bring this food out into the world so that it can help lower prices. But it is difficult because, again, of Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “
As for supply chains, part of the administration’s work has been successful in reducing the backlog in ports. But upgrading supply chain infrastructure and shifting critical goods to domestic production will take some time, which is also what Biden focused on. He recently traveled to Ohio to urge Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that would kick-start U.S. production of critical semiconductor chips and boost innovation in the United States.
Other prices he can only try to lower through Congress, such as the cost of drugs. Biden has urged lawmakers to pass a law on the prices of prescription drugs, such as limiting the cost of insulin and measures that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
It was part of his broader, multi-trillion domestic agenda, which stopped at Capitol Hill, a package that also included efforts to subsidize childcare costs and kindergarten fees.
But such spending is the reason why Republicans are beating Biden and Democrats, and they often say the $ 1.9 trillion spent on aid from COVID-19 last year was a major contributor to inflation.
“They took an economy ready to rise, overturned it and drove it to the ground,” minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Told the Senate on Tuesday. “As a result, the American people are hurt.”
The Center for Tax Policy’s website said government spending is a factor, but not the only reason, for rising prices.
“It was part of the story, but certainly a significant part of the story was other pandemic disruptions and supply chain disruptions,” he said.
Economists expect the CPI report, which will be released on Wednesday, to show a slight decline in average prices, in part because gas prices were more stable in April, Paige said.
“I think our policy helps, not harms,” President Biden said Tuesday.