President Joe Biden stopped short of criticizing former President Donald Trump during a White House event celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage, held the same day August’s consumer price index report was released and the stock market closed at a two-year low.
“The last guy who had this job,” Biden started saying Tuesday to boos from the crowd.
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Biden repeated how the Inflation Reduction Act is a win for middle-class families over special interests, ripping Republicans for not only opposing the legislation, but also threatening to repeal it. He also scrutinized the GOP for blocking a $35 insulin price cap proposal and opposing IRS funding to help the service crackdown on tax cheats. Republicans contend adding IRS agents will disproportionately affect lower-income filers.
“The future of America is bright,” the president said. “The promise of America is real.”
Biden’s speech, preceded by a performance from singer-songwriter James Taylor, is undermined by Harvard Center for American Political Studies-Harris Poll research that found this week that 53% of respondents believe the Inflation Reduction Act will contribute to higher prices. Roughly 20% think it may have the converse effect.
Climate and environmental activists, healthcare advocates, and union workers joined administration officials, lawmakers, governors, and mayors at the White House for the ceremony. Hundreds of special guests also sat on white deck chairs on the South Lawn while hundreds more stood further down the hill. Two labor disputes, one including the country’s largest freight railroad companies and the other involving West Coast ports, could upset supply chains and put more pressure on prices.
During his remarks, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) compared the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act to Senate Republicans introducing a 15-week abortion ban. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described the Inflation Reduction Act as being “beautifully” named because it will do exactly what it is called.
Earlier Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed concerns there was a disconnect between promoting the Inflation Reduction Act and current economic conditions. Instead, she pointed to the measure’s climate and healthcare programs, including its pharmaceutical provisions.
Biden previewed his response to August’s consumer price index report in a written statement released Tuesday morning. In it, he reiterated costs “have been essentially flat in our country these last two months.”
“This month, we saw some price increases slow from the month before at the grocery store,” he said. “And real wages went up again for a second month in a row, giving hard-working families a little breathing room.”
Republicans have mocked the White House’s messaging, underscoring the 0.7% monthly rise in grocery prices, up 13.5% since last August. Tuesday’s report exacerbates the likelihood of the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates by 75 basis points again when the board meets next week.
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“Biden and Democrats throwing themselves a party for raising taxes on families during a recession proves just how out-of-touch they are,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. “After ramming through the Bidenflation Scam bill under the guise of reducing inflation it is clear Democrats don’t care about lying to the American people, they only care about power.”