Biden says prices are ‘too high’ as ​​inflation rises ahead of midterms

By Jarret Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s hopes that his party will head into the midterm elections with lower inflation were dashed on Thursday when the final report ahead of November’s vote showed prices rising. more than planned.

The report could hurt Biden and his Democrats, who hope to retain control of Congress and must convince voters deeply concerned about high prices that they are the ones who can help bring down inflation, even though it happened under their surveillance.

The White House has been slow to acknowledge the stubbornness of inflation, with top officials including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calling high prices “transitional” through 2021, even as some economists have warned that they might linger.

Biden and other officials on Thursday sought to strike a balance between showing empathy for American families struggling to pay their bills and boasting about other elements of the U.S. economy, like a strong job market. .

“Americans are squeezed by the cost of living: it’s been true for years, and they didn’t need today’s report to tell them that,” Biden said in a statement.

The consumer price index rose 0.4% last month after rising 0.1% in August, the Labor Department said in its report, on rent and food hikes. In the 12 months to September, the CPI rose 8.2% after rising 8.3% in August.

Biden said the consumer price index is showing progress in tackling rising prices, but more work needs to be done.

The White House noted that inflation over the past three months has averaged 2% at an annualized rate, down from 11% in the previous quarter. The rise was driven by soaring rents and food prices and bolsters expectations that the Federal Reserve will make a fourth interest rate hike of 75 basis points next month.

“But even with this progress, prices are still too high. Fighting global inflation that affects countries around the world and working families here at home is my top priority,” Biden said.

Biden and the Democrats have tried, with modest success, to rein in a surge in inflation caused by a US economy emerging from COVID lockdowns and oil-rich Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The administration has been working around the clock to help decongest the country’s ports to allow more consumer goods to enter the country and has opened the strategic petroleum reserve taps to allow more oil on the market and blunt record gasoline prices in the United States.

He also passed the Cut Inflation Act, which does not bring immediate relief to American consumers, but will eventually help them save money on medical and energy costs, among other things.

“We have policies that are going to make a difference. We have policies that have already made a difference. We just have to stay the course,” Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, told CNN in an interview Thursday.

“Almost a year after President Biden promised Americans that inflation had peaked, core inflation is now the highest on record under his presidency,” Republican leader Kevin Brady said. of the Ways and Means Committee, in a press release.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Paul Grant; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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