Biden on inflation: 'I know you gotta be frustrated … I can taste it'

President Biden speaks to the nation from the White House on May 10, 2022, about his plan to combat inflation. (Video screenshot)
President Biden speaks to the nation from the White House on May 10, 2022, about his plan to combat inflation. (Video screenshot)

The inflation that President Biden once insisted was temporary has settled in at the highest annual rate in 40 years amid declines in GDP, the labor market and the stock market, but the president insists he’s not to blame while warning against the Republicans’ “ultra-MAGA” agenda.

“I think our policies help. Not hurt,” he said in response to a reporter who asked if he should accept responsibility.

The consumer price index rose 8.5% in March from a year ago, according to the Labor Department, and Biden said Tuesday that curbing inflation is his “top domestic priority.”

“The vast majority of the economists think that this is going to be a real tough problem to solve, but it’s not because of spending,” he said.

Asked why Americans blame him for higher prices, Biden acknowledged his party controls all three branches of government. He then backtracked, saying, “Well, we don’t really.”

He said 60 votes are needed to “get things done” in the 50-50 Senate.

“I’ve been pushing the things I’ve been proposing here … since I’ve got in office, and I need to get 60 votes to be able to even pass.”

Many economists believe the economy would be in even worse shape if Biden’s “Build Back Better” spending plan had not been blocked by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Biden said the sources of inflation are “really complicated.”

“Right now it’s confusing” to the average American, he said. “There’s a war in Ukraine and they’re scratching their head.”

He said the “vast majority of Americans are hoping that their government just takes care of their problem and they don’t have to think about it in detail at the kitchen table.”

“Look, I know you gotta be frustrated. I know. I can taste it,” the president said.

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‘Price gouging’
Biden pinned inflation on two major causes, the “once in a century pandemic” and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said his plan is “to lower and lower and lower everyday costs for hardworking Americans and lower the deficit by asking large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to not engage in price gouging and to pay their fair share in taxes.”

The top 1% of earners pay 40% of all taxes and the top 10% absorb 71% of the burden.

Republicans, Biden claimed, plan “to increase taxes on the middle class families, let billionaires and large companies off the hook as they raise prices, and reap profits of record amounts.”

He said that over the next six months he will release 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

He’s approved the sale of E15 gasoline, a 15% ethanol blend, which he said will increase access to fuel and “reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reckless autocrats like Putin.”

Biden said the Republicans’ proposed solution is Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s “11 Point Plan to Rescue America,” which proposes that every American pay some income tax “to have skin in the game, even if a small amount.”

“Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax,” Scott wrote.

‘The ultra MAGA plan’
Biden said Americans “have a choice right now between two paths, reflecting two very different sets of values.”

“My plan attacks tax inflation and grows the economy, by lowering costs for working families, giving workers well-deserved raises, reducing the deficit by historic levels, making big corporations, the very wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.”

“The other path is the ultra-MAGA plan put forward by congressional Republicans to raise taxes on working families, lower the income of American workers, threaten sacred programs Americans count on like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and give break after break to big corporations and billionaires, just like they did the last time they were in power,” Biden said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has rejected Scott’s proposal for every American to “have skin in the game” and reform entitlements, saying Republicans “will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”

After Biden’s speech, Scott was asked to respond in an interview with Fox News host Harris Faulkner.

The senator said Biden “took no responsibility for inflation and he has no plan.”

“Let’s look at the Biden agenda right now,” he said. “We have 8.5% inflation, we’ve got the highest gas prices ever, we’ve got low labor participation, we’ve got a GDP that’s declining, we’ve got mortgage rates skyrocketing, we’ve got a stock market going down.”

Biden, Scott said, “was confusing, he put up no ideas of what he’s going to get done.”

Biden’s touted decrease in the deficit can be attributed to ending or drastically reducing spending on COVID-19, critics argue, and Scott said the “idea that he is reducing the deficit is a complete lie.”

Over 10 years, he said, Biden’s plan will increase the nation debt to $45 trillion.

See the speech:

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