Mar 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

State of the Union: Biden calls inflation "top priority"

President Biden is seen presenting a copy of his State of the Union address to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

President Biden presents a copy of his remarks before delivering his State of the Union address. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Tuesday that getting inflation under control is his “top priority,” while warning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to higher costs for American consumers.

Why it matters: The White House knows the country is frustrated with price hikes, but officials also want credit for strong GDP growth, job creation and low unemployment. Biden devoted a meaty section of his first State of the Union address to covering both topics.

  • “With all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth and higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills,” the president said.
  • “Inflation is robbing them of the gains they might otherwise feel,” he added. “I get it. That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.”

The big picture: Biden blamed surging prices on the speed of the economic recovery and disruption caused by COVID-19 and broken supply chains.

  • His long-term solution to fighting costs rests largely on Congress passing parts of his Build Back Better agenda, which will lower costs for prescription drugs.
  • “One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer,” he said.
  • “I have a better plan to fight inflation,” he said “Lower your costs, not your wages.”

Go deeper: Biden officials have been telegraphing this week their plan to address inflation, which rests on a four-point plan — some of which were achieved in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan.

  • But most of the proposals he mentioned were already part of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
  • That plan is all but dead in the Senate, after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) called off negotiations — citing his concern about inflation.
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