LOS ANGELES — President Biden on Friday praised dockers for speeding up supply chains and said his legislative agenda would lower households’ monthly costs as he grapples with inflation that rose to a new high in 40 years in May and a huge drag on his presidency. stays .
The president also denounced oil companies for rising gas prices, saying, “Exxon made more money than God this year. Exxon, start investing and start paying your taxes.”
Speaking at the Port of Los Angeles, Mr. Biden averted the deteriorating economic news by saying that inflation is a global problem and even higher in some other countries, and said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is exacerbating the problem. .
At the same time, he acknowledged that inflation is persistent and should be his top economic priority.
“But make no mistake. I understand inflation is a real challenge for American families,” he said aboard the USS Iowa, a battleship that was commissioned in 1943 during World War II, Korea and the Cold War and is now a museum.
Mr Biden pointed to past successes and signs of increasing progress. He said “core” inflation is stabilizing, the number of truck drivers is rising and most people received their Christmas hampers on time last year.
He also said 40% fewer containers are clogging the port of LA than in November.
“This May was the strongest month in the history of the Port of Los Angeles,” he said.
Sal DiCostanzo, member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13, praised workers for the labor that led local ports to “repeatedly destroy” cargo volume records. He also lavishly praised the president for “strengthening the role of labor in the economy and for upholding justice and democracy at every opportunity.”
Mr Biden said additional help is on the way from the bipartisan infrastructure law, which will support communications in ports and use cleaner fuels.
Help can’t come soon enough for many Americans.
The cost of goods and everyday life rose to a new 40-year high in May, with annual inflation rising 0.3% to 8.6% and consumer prices rising 1% last month alone due to more expensive fuel, food and housing.
Economists had thought inflation was beginning to slow, but the latest Labor Department data released Friday quashed that theory.
The war in Ukraine is still exacerbating the exorbitant price increases that took place before the Russian invasion in February.
Prices at the pump continue to set records almost daily, with the national average for a gallon of gas at $4.99. That’s 62 cents more than a month ago and $1.92 higher than a year ago.
Mr Biden accused oil companies of keeping supply low by refusing to drill and continued to point to Russia as the driving force behind high gas prices.
“Pump prices are an important part of inflation, and the war in Ukraine is a major cause of it,” Biden said in a written statement on the Labor Department report. “The United States is on track to produce a record amount of oil next year and I am working with industry to accelerate this production. But it is also important that the oil and gas and refining industries in this country do not use the challenge posed by the war in Ukraine as a reason to make things worse for families with excessive profit-taking or price hikes.”
Groceries prices rose 1.4% in the past month and nearly 12% in the past year.
Excluding food and energy costs, inflation rose 0.6% in May, with the annual rate decelerating slightly from 6.2% to 6%.
Budget watchers said Congress has a role to play.
“As the Federal Reserve continues to work to contain inflation, it’s important that Congress and the president help make the job of the Fed easier, not get in the way,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Federal Reserve. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “That means paying for new legislation, phasing out COVID aid, avoiding ill-advised measures that would exacerbate inflation, such as canceling student loans, and proposing meaningful deficit reduction that lowers prices and fuel demand. down.”
sen. Kansas Republican Roger Marshall said it is time for lawmakers to bring in the flow of dollars from Washington.
“Americans can’t afford everything from gasoline to food to clothing, can’t find baby food and are dealing with a fentanyl crisis that is ravaging our communities,” he said. “If my nearly 100 town halls are any indication, Kansans aren’t just angry, they’re now panicking about Joe Biden’s inflation. These large expenditures and more loans must come to a halt.”
Mr Biden has defended his multi-billion dollar legislative agenda known as Build Back Better, which has stalled in Congress. He says it will cut costs on things like prescription drugs, while people struggle to afford everyday goods.
“That would fundamentally affect the well-being of any family,” he said.
Faced with falling approval numbers and a potential bloodbath for Democrats in November, the president tried to contrast with Republicans. He said the GOP will reduce or split Social Security and Medicare coverage for seniors, even as they target wealthy companies.
“They have a fundamentally different view of the role of government and who should pay for what,” he said.
• Jeff Mordock reported from Los Angeles.