Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
President Biden said tackling inflation was his “top national priority” in an economic speech at the White House on Tuesday morning and outlined his administration’s plans to lower the prices of things like gas, which has reached record cost.
Biden’s remarks were also aimed at what he called “ultra-MAGA” Republicans. His fierce attacks on the GOP are part of the administration’s effort to contrast with how Republicans plan to handle inflation and rising costs, issues that concern voters ahead of the midterm elections this year.
“Republicans have offered a lot of blame,” Biden said of gas prices, “but not a single solution to actually lower energy prices.”
The president said that while the pandemic and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine contributed to inflation, lack of competition and restricted access to materials are why prices continued to rise.
“Capitalism without competition is not capitalism, it is exploitation. So we encourage competition in everything from internet services to meat processing,” Biden said.
“My whole plan is focused on cutting costs for the average family in America, to give them just a bit of a break,” he said. The president, however, did not offer a timeline on when costs might start to come down.
Biden’s remarks are part of a series of events this week where the president will continue to talk about cost cutting. On Wednesday, the president will travel to Illinois to visit a family farm and talk about food prices. He will also speak to electricians at the IBEW convention in Chicago.
White House targets GOP ‘ultra-MAGA’ messages
In his speech, Biden not only laid out his own agenda, but repeatedly criticized Republicans, namely one of The Chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, Senator Rick Scott of Florida. He blamed the GOP’s “ultra-MAGA” plan to raise taxes on Americans and give tax cuts to billionaires.
“They don’t want to solve inflation by cutting your costs, they want to solve it by raising your taxes and cutting your income,” Biden said.
He specifically pointed to Scott’s plan which requires every American to pay income tax. Currently, about half of Americans do not earn enough money to pay income taxes.
“If you look at what we’ve been doing for the last few years, we’re paying people not to work,” Scott told NPR in March. “We have people who voted for government programs who could go to work and who don’t work. I’m not raising the tax rate. I’m not even raising their taxes. I’m saying we have to get these people work to make them part of the system.
Biden called Scott’s plan “the ultra-MAGA agenda.”
“Republicans in Congress are so deeply committed to protecting big business and CEOs that they would rather see taxes on American working families and try to drive down their wages than tackle inflation,” Biden said.
Biden also attacked Scott’s proposal to allow the legislation to expire every five years unless Congress renews it, which would put legislation such as Social Security, Medicare and health insurance to a vote. ‘Health Insurance. The president called it “scandalous”.
Inflation will dominate the midterm elections
Celinda Lake, a pollster who works with Democratic candidates, told NPR that inflation will be a big issue for voters in the midterm elections, but people will start cementing their opinion on it in May and June.
She said it was important for Democrats to recognize that inflation is a problem and to repeatedly assure that they are doing everything that can be done on multiple fronts, at the executive and legislative levels, to bring down the prices. She also said it’s important to point out that Republicans are standing in the way of those efforts.
“People have no idea what the barriers are to implementing these policies. It’s very, very important to say that one of the issues here is that Republicans aren’t joining us,” Lake said.
Lake says voters right now think Republicans are better on inflation, so Democrats have some catching up to do.