On the day the U.S. inflation rate hit a 40-year high, President Joe Biden traveled to the Port of Los Angeles Friday to discuss efforts to streamline global supply chains and counter rising prices, painting the issue as a worldwide problem fueled largely by Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Speaking aboard the Battleship Iowa museum in San Pedro, Biden referred to “Putin’s Price Hike” for driving up the cost of energy and food, which he said accounted for the vast majority of 8.6% inflation rate in May compared to the same month a year ago.
“Every country in the world is getting a big bite of this inflation, worse than we are for the vast majority of countries around the world,” Biden said. “But make no mistake about it, I understand inflation is a real challenge to American families. Today’s inflation report confirmed what Americans already know. `Putin’s Price Hike’ is hitting America hard.
“Gas prices at the pump, energy and food prices account for half of the monthly price increases since May. Inflation outside of energy and food — what the economists call core inflation — moderated the last two months. Not enough, but it moderated. It’s come down. But we need it to come down much more quickly.
“My administration is going to continue to do everything we can to lower prices for the American people,” he said.
Biden said backlogs of goods at the nation’s largest port complex have eased since last year, when cargo ships were lined up for weeks trying to reach container terminals as the COVID-19 pandemic hampered labor. He noted that the Los Angeles-Long Beach complex moved record numbers of containers in May, showing that goods are again flowing.
He also pointed blame for rising costs on foreign shipping companies that carry good between Asia and the United States, saying some have raised their prices by as much as 1,000%, realizing a seven-fold increase in profits.
Republicans lashed out at Biden and Democrats following the release of Friday’s inflation numbers. On Twitter, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said inflation is “out of control,” and he accused Democrats of staging prime-time hearings on the Capitol insurrection as an effort to distract the American people.
“I call on Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and House Democrats to hold a prime-time hearing on the out-of-control inflation their policies have created,” he wrote.
Biden, however, defended his administration, saying Americans should understand “our economy has unique strengths that we can build on.”
“The job market is as strong as it’s been since World War II, notwithstanding inflation,” he said. “We added another 390,000 jobs last month — 8 million-7-hundred-thousand jobs since I took office, an all-time record. … The unemployment rate is near historic lows. Millions of Americans are moving up to better jobs and better pay.”