Biden plans action to thwart construction supply issues

CLEVELAND (Reuters) -President Joe Biden said on Thursday he will soon take action to ease U.S. supply pressures in construction materials, eliminate transportation bottlenecks and stop anti-competitive practices in the economy.

U.S. President Joe Biden tours the Cuyahoga Community College Manufacturing Technology Center in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

“In the coming weeks, my administration will take steps to combat these supply pressures, starting with the construction materials and transportation bottlenecks, and building off the work we’re doing on computer chips,” Biden said in a speech at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.

“We’re also announcing new initiatives to combat anticompetitive practices that hurt small businesses and families.”

Biden, a Democrat eager to build on the U.S. economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, delivered the speech as he works to sell trillions in new spending on infrastructure, manufacturing subsidies, childcare and other investments.

The president will release a budget plan on Friday for fiscal-year 2022 that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said will push U.S. debt above the size of the national economy but not contribute to inflationary pressures.

Republicans object to Biden’s main plans to help pay for the extra spending: tax hikes on high-income earners and the biggest corporations.

The spending could help push down lingering unemployment following a pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and put millions more out of work.

But signs of higher inflation from gasoline to lumber, and lingering shortages of supplies like computer chips, have threatened to derail that recovery by making critical goods and labor more expensive or hard to come by.

The Biden administration has been eager to head off suggestions that its spending polices could exacerbate rising prices and spark inflation that could worsen economic inequality.

“Now, as our economy recovers, there’s gonna be some bumps in the road,” Biden said. “You can’t reboot a global economy like flipping on a light switch. There’s gonna be ups and downs in jobs and economic reports. There’s going to be supply-chain issues – price distortions on the way back to a stable and steady growth.”

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