Tuesday, March 28, 2023

WATCH: Biden vows to fight inflation as prices continue to rise

LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – The US is in a strong position to recover from the worst inflation in more than 40 years, according to President Joe Biden’s forecast. But so far, inflation continues only for the betterment of the US economy and the Biden administration.

See Biden’s comment in the player above.

The President’s policies, his deals with the private sector, regulatory actions and public response have so far failed to stop prices from moving upwards.

Biden promised to continue the fight against inflation when he visited the Port of Los Angeles, America’s busiest port on Friday and the White House said last October would be key to easing price pressure.

“My administration will continue to do everything possible to bring down prices to the American people,” the president said after a decidedly bleak new report on consumer prices.

Consumer prices climbed 8.6 percent in May from a year earlier, the Labor Department reported Friday. This is the worst reading since December 1981 and a troubling sign for the economy as a rate hike by the Federal Reserve has yet to moderate inflation as the cost of gasoline continues to trend upward. Rising prices are threatening Democratic control of the US economy as well as the House and Senate, putting Biden on the defensive.

AAA separately reported that average US gas prices reached a record $4.99 a gallon, a rise that has overwhelmed the president’s previous efforts to slash overall inflation. The pain in the pump is hurting Biden’s public acceptance ahead of the midterm election.

The Port of Los Angeles began round-the-clock operations last October under an agreement the White House helped shepherd. The goal was to clear a backlog of ships and containers waiting to flow into the country, a logjam that was pumping up prices as the world began to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The port is now pumping out a record 200,000 containers on a 30-day average. But the forces driving inflation have shifted mainly to rising energy and food costs after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There has also been a massive increase in prices that go beyond supply chain issues. Accommodation, airfare and medical services expenses increased significantly in May.

Jean Cerocca, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said there were several levers that improved performance in terms of getting goods to consumers and businesses faster. But he specifically credited “the federal government’s cohesive powers to bring people to the table” and the Biden administration’s focus on the supply chain.

Read more: Shares fall after bad inflation, rate hike expected

“We have reduced the number of ships that are waiting to be in port this year by 75 percent,” Serocca said. “These guys are really working because we still have strong consumer demand.”

The Biden administration is seeking to further reduce shipping prices with a bipartisan bill that the House could pass as soon as next week. The bill would give the Federal Maritime Commission the tools to make ocean-based trade more efficient and price competitive, improving the flow of exports and imports.

“What I have found in California is that they want us to do whatever we can to address the inflation problem – and that is clearly an important part of the problem,” said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., said to be the sponsor of the A Bill.

Rep. Dusty Johnson, RSD, said he saw a need for additional equipment after two million pounds of lactose rot of cheese processors in his state because no carrier would take the product, even though 60 percent of shipping containers were empty going back to Asia.

“It’s not a silver bullet with respect to inflation,” said Johnson, who sponsored the bill. But he added that, as soon as the provisions come into force, “it will have an absolute impact on inflation.”

Strong consumer demand has been a mixed boon for Biden. This reflects strong job growth and solid household balance sheets that follow the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed last year. But demand has consistently outperformed supply, pushing prices up to levels that are forcing the Federal Reserve to try to slow growth and potentially risk a recession.

The White House argues that the US can tackle inflation without stumbling into a recession because the economy, with its 3.6 percent unemployment rate, is so strong that it could face a recession.

Biden is also trying to frame inflation as a global challenge, triggered first by the pandemic and then by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The president is attempting to refute criticism by Republican lawmakers that inflation was the result of his government aid being too liberal and that his restrictions on US oil production were too harsh.

Biden has attempted to slow inflation by improving port operations and releasing twice as much oil from the US Strategic Reserve, among other regulatory initiatives and a domestic agenda that would include a reduction in the budget deficit and would require Congressional approval.

The port visit comes as Biden is hosting the Summit of America in Los Angeles. On Friday, he will also announce a declaration on migration and hold a working luncheon with heads of government and state attending the Conference of Nations in the Western Hemisphere.

And in keeping with campaign season, Biden will attend two fundraising receptions for the Democratic National Committee on Friday.

Nation World News Desk
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