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President Biden and his administration have assigned blame for record inflation and gas prices in the country on everything from Vladimir Putin to greedy “meat conglomerates” to the two-year-old coronavirus pandemic.
Reacting Wednesday to April’s consumer price index, Biden said inflation is “unacceptably high,” and maintained that lowering prices for American families is his “top economic priority,” while again blaming the surging numbers on COVID-19 and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that the consumer price index rose 8.3% in April from a year ago, a sharp hike although slightly below the 8.5% year-over-year surge recorded in March. Prices jumped 0.3% in the one-month period from March.
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Despite low unemployment numbers, record inflation and brutal prices at the pump have been a political thorn in Biden’s side over the past year, with polling showing now Americans view high prices as a hardship.
Biden went after familiar targets on Tuesday for the problem, assailing the pandemic and Putin, as well as Republicans for not going along with his economic plan. They have said their own policies, such as the $ 1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, have not contributed to the surge.
“I want us to be crystal clear about the problem,” Biden said. “There are two leading causes of inflation we’re seeing today. The first cause of inflation is a once-in-a-century pandemic. Not only did it shut down our global economy, it threw the supply chains and the demand completely out of whack. “
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“And this year we have a second cause, Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine.” He added, “We saw in March that 60% of inflation that month was due to price increases at the pump for gasoline.”
He added Republicans didn’t want to solve inflation by lowering costs.
During remarks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, last month, Biden nodded to families “struggling with higher prices” amid record-high inflation, but again said the reason for the surge was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The second big reason for inflation is Vladimir Putin. Not a joke,” Biden said. “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world.”
Biden made similar comments in March in multiple speeches, also pointing at used car price hikes.
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Biden’s repeatedly referred to inflation and gas prices as due to “Putin’s price hike,” although the spike was occurring before the Russian invasion in February.
At one point in December, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, noting rising meat prices, pointed to what Biden and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called “greedy meat conglomerates.”
“You could call it corporate greed. Sure,” she said on Dec. 14.
At another point, Biden went on the attack against oil and gas companies for gas prices. In a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan in December as gas prices remained alarmingly high, Biden wrote there was “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.”
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Fox News’ Dana Blanton, Brooke Singman and Megan Henney contributed to this report.