Biden blames Putin, COVID for record-high inflation in US

Biden shifts blame for record-high inflation on Putin

‘The Big Weekend Show’ panel weighs in as inflation soars to another 40-year high.

President Biden on Monday said Russian President Vladimir Putin and the COVID-19 pandemic are to blame for record-high inflation in the United States and maintained that rising prices have “nothing to do” with his administration’s policies.

The president spoke Monday at the National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference and addressed the increase in U.S. gas prices, as well as every day household items.

“We know that families are still struggling with higher prices,” Biden said. “Let’s be absolutely clear about why prices are high now or high for two reasons.” 

The first, Biden said, is due to “the way the global economy works.”

(Chip Somodevilla/Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

“A factory in Taiwan that makes computer chips shuts down to a COVID outbreak. It causes a ripple effect to slow down auto-manufacturing,” Biden said. “So, because of the pandemic, we had significant disruption disruptions in the supply chain, and our supply chain is so important with so many materials that come from other places.”

“And now, a second big reason for inflation is Vladimir Putin,” Biden said. 

“We’ve seen the price of gas go up over a dollar just since he put his troops on the border on the border of Ukraine — they went up a dollar and five cents,” Biden said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law legislation that could punish journalists with up to 15 years in prison for reporting so-called "fake" news about his military invasion of Ukraine.       
(Yuri Kochetkov/Pool)

“Big part of that reason is Putin began amassing troops along the border and then crossed. And guess what? The world took notice,” Biden said. “The market anticipated, prices went up, and then Putin invaded.”

He added: “Make no mistake, the current spike in gas prices is largely the fault of Vladimir Putin — it has nothing to do with the American Rescue Plan.”

Biden said that “rescuing our economy didn’t cause this problem,” but he vowed to “fix it.”

“We’re building this economy from the bottom up, in the middle out, and something incredible is happening,” he said. “We’re seeing revival like never before — the pride that comes from stamping products ‘Made in America.’”

Meanwhile, inflation hit a fresh 40-year high in February. The consumer price index climbed 7.9% on an annual basis, according to data released on Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Month over month, according to the data, inflation rose 0.8%.

The year-over-year reading is in line with estimates and compares with an annual 7.5% jump in January, marking the fastest increase since February 1982, when inflation hit 7.6%.

Gas jumped 6.6% in February and accounted for almost a third of price hikes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Thursday. Food prices, in comparison, rose by 1%.

The February data were recorded before the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has pushed prices at the pump to $4.31 as of today, according to AAA, a record high. 

Biden last week announced a ban on all imports of Russian oil, gas and energy to the United States, targeting the “main artery” of Russia’s economy amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. Biden warned that the ban would cost American families.

Russian oil exports account for about one-third of Europe’s oil imports, but Russian exports are just under 10% of U.S. overall imports.

Amid surging gas prices, Biden has been facing criticism from Republicans, who have urged him to lift his executive orders that canceled the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and froze new oil and gas leases on federal lands.

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said restarting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was not one of the options on the table to alleviate rising costs of gas for Americans.

“If we’re trying to bring about more supply, that does not address any problem,” Psaki said. “The pipeline is just a delivery mechanism — it’s not an oil field, so it does not provide more supply into the system.”

When pressed further on whether restarting the pipeline is something the White House is considering, Psaki replied, “There’s no plans for that, and it would not address any of the problems we’re having currently.”

Biden last week said it is “not true” that his administration is holding back domestic energy production, warning that gas prices will “go up further” from their current record levels. And he reiterated his support for government spending on renewable energy sources and criticized the oil and gas industry for not taking full advantage of drilling opportunities in the U.S.

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