Biden acknowledges inflation is 'sapping the strength of many families' as economists brace for Fed to hike interest rates

The president acknowledged that inflation was “sapping the strength of many families”, as the price of petrol and food soared – a problem made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But even as he sought to emphasize that his administration was fully focused on the issue, the president admitted he had run out of options to fight price hikes, especially in a tightly divided Senate that blocked most of Biden’s national agenda.

“The problem is that the Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to stop my cost-cutting plans for ordinary families. That’s why my plan isn’t done and why the results aren’t done either. “, said Biden.

The president continued: “The jobs are back but the prices are still too high. Covid is down but gas prices are up. Our work is not finished. the few – for the few – or a government for all of us. Democracy for all of us. An economy where we all have a chance and a chance to earn our place in the economy.”

The president focused Tuesday on contrasting his economic policies with the plan presented by the leader of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida. Under Scott’s plan, which was reprimanded by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, all federal laws would have a sunset clause five years after they are passed.

“Ask yourself really, how are they going to sleep at night knowing that every five years Ted Cruz and the other ultra-MAGA Republicans are going to vote on whether you’ll get Social Security, Medicare, Medicare? sickness ?” Biden said.

He said, “That’s what this is about. They always wanted to cut Social Security. They always wanted to cut Medicare. They always wanted to cut Medicaid.”

In recent months, the president has leaned on criticism of what he describes as an “ultra-MAGA agenda” on the right as part of his message ahead of November’s midterm elections as he is trying to help the Democrats retain power in the House and Senate.

“Look, I believe in bipartisanship, but I have no illusions about this Republican party, the MAGA party. control of the ultra MAGA agenda,” Biden said.

The president said he spoke on a video call with Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is currently off the campaign trail recovering from a stroke. Biden said Fetterman “looked good” on the video call and urged voters to elect him into office in November. Fetterman’s wife, Gieselle Fetterman, told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny last week that her husband may be out of the campaign trail until July.

Biden on Tuesday touted his administration’s efforts to help the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic, including the Covid-19 relief bill and the bipartisan infrastructure law.

“Now, not only is it infrastructure week, but we’ve come to the infrastructure decade,” Biden said. “People are going to see a lot of it. We have to remind them where it came from.”

The president argued that his economic policies have “positioned America to tackle a global problem that is worse everywhere but here – inflation.”

“While this was going on, America created more…billionaires during this crisis in 2020 than any year in history. Talk about a contrast. Ordinary people line up for an hour for a box of food, and the policies of the past have created more billionaires than ever in American history. People, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. It’s what we inherited,” said Biden.

He also mentioned some steps he has taken, and others he is considering, to fight inflation, but Biden has previously said he can’t do much more that would have a noticeable effect. .

The White House has been trying for months to demonstrate its commitment to reining in inflation and bringing down soaring prices that weigh on millions of American families. But the president acknowledged earlier this month there was little he could do to reduce the cost of gas or food immediately.

The president and his administration have repeatedly blamed the rise in gas and energy prices on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, although other factors, including a strong demand, clogged supply chains, rising housing costs and Covid-19 stimulus efforts have also been cited by experts as reasons for the surge.

Steps Biden has taken to try to combat price hikes — such as record releases of crude oil from the U.S. Strategic Reserve — haven’t worked; for the first time ever, a gallon of regular gasoline now costs $5 on average nationwide, according to the AAA’s Saturday reading.

Combined with a falling stock market and intense warnings from high-level CEOs, the economy has become the White House’s top political issue and priority. But the president’s spokesperson says Americans will be able to weather the economic storm thanks to their actions since Biden took office.

“We know families are concerned about inflation and the stock market. That’s something we’re aware of. We know what we’re seeing right now are global challenges that we’re facing,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.

She added, “The American people are well positioned to deal with these challenges thanks to what we have done over the past year and a half to manage the economy…but yes, we are watching this closely.”

US stocks have plunged into a bear market, which occurs when stocks close 20% or more from their most recent high. A closely watched inflation report showed prices rose 8.6% in May, the fastest rate since 1981.

This story was updated with new developments on Tuesday.

CNN’s Betsy Klein and Allison Morrow contributed to this report.

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