By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, May 10, 2022
U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday assured Americans that tackling rising prices was his top domestic priority.
The president said 60 per cent of inflation in March was due to price increases at the pump for gasoline.
Biden, who gave the assurance in his speech at the White House on the Economy, said the plans and policies of the administration had produced the strongest job creation economy in modern times.
According to him, no fewer than 8.3 million jobs have been created in 15 months in office.
“Unemployment rates are down to 3.6 per cent – the fastest decline in unemployment to start a presidential term ever recorded.
“And in addition, Americans have applied to start three-5.4 million new small businesses last year — 20 per cent more than any other year on record.
“I want every American to know that I’m taking inflation very seriously and it’s my top domestic priority.’’
Americans are grappling with the worst inflation in 40 years, fueled by surges in gas, food and rent costs.
He called inflation the nation’s top economic challenge, blaming the twin challenges of a “once-in-a-century pandemic” and the war in Ukraine.
Biden, however, objected to Senator Rick Scott’s assertion that all Americans should pay some income tax and all laws should be renewed every five years.
The president argued the former would impose a “new minimum tax on the middle class” and the latter would put Medicare and other critical Programmes “on the chopping block every five years”.
“If Republicans want to reject his plan, they should go do that,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.
“But otherwise, that continues to be what they’re running on.”
Steps the White House said Biden had taken to combat inflation include releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, working with the private sector to lower the cost of internet access for low-income Americans, freezing student loan payments and making more dependents eligible for premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Other proposals are to lower costs on health care, child care and other common expenses have not advanced in Congress.
Republicans said high spending by Democrats is behind rising prices.
Every congressional Republican voted against 2021’s 1.9 trillion dollars COVID-19 relief package that some said added too much kindling to a hot economy.
Biden rejected that argument, saying his policies helped, not hurt, the economy.
“It’s not because of spending,” Biden said. “We’ve brought down the deficit.”