PHILADELPHIA (AFP) - President Joe Biden on Tuesday (June 14) blamed Republicans and the Russian invasion of Ukraine for soaring US inflation, in a bid to deflect voter anger over his inability to keep prices down.
Speaking to trade unions in Philadelphia on the eve of the Federal Reserve's likely decision to raise interest rates again, Biden said inflation is "sapping the strength of a lot of families."
Biden said he feels Americans' pain, having grown up in a family where news that the price of gasoline had gone up "was a conversation at the dinner table. It mattered."
But he rejected arguments that his government's massive spending to stimulate the economy at the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic was to blame, instead citing shockwaves from Ukraine and Republican obstruction.
"Under my plan for the economy we made extraordinary progress and put America in a position to tackle a worldwide problem," Biden said of inflationary pressure on economies around the globe.
He said the bloody attack by oil-rich Russia on Ukraine, a major wheat supplier, had sparked fuel and food price increases.
But he also said "Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to stop my plans to bring down costs on ordinary families. That's why my plan is not finished and why the results aren't finished either."
Biden said inflation is overshadowing a successful US exit from the pandemic economy, including wage increases, record numbers of applications for small businesses, and "the greatest jobs recovery in American history. People don't want to talk about these days, but it's true."
"Jobs are back but prices are still too high. Covid is down, but gas prices are up. Our work isn't done," Biden said.
"But here's the deal: America still has a choice to make, a choice between a government by the few for the few, or government for all of us, democracy for all of us, an economy for all of us."
The Fed is battling to tamp down inflation through interest rate hikes, while simultaneously trying to avoid going too far and nudging the economy into recession. A new hike is expected on Wednesday.
With approval ratings below 40 per cent for the first time and his Democratic party potentially losing its slender control of Congress in November elections, Biden faces growing political peril.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Biden "couldn't care less about" inflation and other economic strains, and that "voters will hold him accountable for his failures in November."