President Joe Biden on Tuesday acknowledged that “too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills,” as he outlined steps to address inflation during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
“Inflation is robbing them of gains,” Biden said in his speech before a joint session of Congress. “That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.”
The president said his moves to tackle high prices including pushing to “make more cars and semiconductors in America” and to lower drug costs.
“Let’s let Medicare negotiate the price of prescription drugs,” Biden said.
He also reiterated his call for cutting the cost of child care, mentioning his proposals that would provide two free years of pre-kindergarten and limit how much families spend.
“Middle-class and working folks shouldn’t have to pay more than 7% of their income to care for their young children,” he said.
In addition, Biden talked up cutting energy costs for families by “an average of $500 a year by combating climate change,” saying it can be done through tax credits for energy-efficient homes and businesses and other measures.
“While you’re at it, confirm my nominees for the Federal Reserve, which plays a critical role in fighting inflation,” Biden added.
His remarks come as the latest readings on U.S. inflation put it at 7.5% — and as economists say there isn’t a great deal that any administration can do about high prices in the near term. Inflation will continue to be a key line of attack against Biden and his fellow Democrats in the midterm elections, Republican officials have made clear.
“We haven’t had inflation like this in 40 years, and what inflation is is a tax on every single American, and it really hurts,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican, in an interview ahead of Biden’s speech.
“It was shocking to me when I watched President Biden said inflation was temporary. It’s not a big deal. It’s not something to be worried about,” McCarthy added, referring to a Biden remark made in July, when he said the price rises had been foreseen and were forecast to be temporary.
The S&P 500 stock index
has dropped 10% to date this year, as investors prepare for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in response to high inflation — and as they react to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ariel Gans of Medill News Service contributed to this report.