Joe Biden says Fed chief Jerome Powell, Fed will get inflation under control

President Biden tried to assure Americans Tuesday that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and the central bank will get control of record inflation, despite the price of gas hitting another high and three-quarters of voters saying the nation is headed in the wrong direction.

“Chair Powell and other members of the Fed have noted at this moment they have been laser-focused on addressing inflation, like I am,” Mr. Biden told reporters during a rare meeting with Mr. Powell at the White House.

The president said the Fed’s decisions on monetary policy will “address the crisis for the American people.”

Consumer prices rose 8.3% in April, near a 40-year high. The Fed raised interest rates by a half-percentage point earlier this month in an effort to cool inflation, and Mr. Powell has signaled that the central bank plans more rate hikes of a similar size in June and July.

The cost of food and energy are driving much of the increases. Gasoline hit a new nationwide high of $4.62 per gallon on Tuesday, according to AAA.

High inflation is cited as the top concern of voters in this midterm election year, and 75% of respondents in an NBC News poll this month said the nation is going in the wrong direction.

SEE ALSO: Biden to meet with Powell, kick off economic messaging campaign

Given the worrisome political trends for the White House and congressional Democrats, Mr. Biden and his team are embarking on a cross-country blitz in June to convince Americans that the economic growth and the job market are strong.

Mr. Biden previewed his economic plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Tuesday in which he touted the comparatively strong economic position the U.S. is in despite “serious challenges” to the global economy.

He also highlighted his administration’s moves to reduce the federal deficit, citing a Congressional Budget Office projection from last week that forecasts a $1.7 trillion reduction this year.

“We now have a chance to build on a historic recovery with an economy that works for working families,” the president wrote. “The most important thing we can do now to transition from rapid recovery to stable, steady growth is to bring inflation down.”

But Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the president is trying to fool the public.

“After one of the most expensive Memorial Day weekends on record, Biden is lying to hard-working Americans about the economy,” she said. “Under Biden, inflation and gas prices have only gone up and families are struggling to afford basic needs as a result. Despite what Biden and the Democrats say, the economy is declining steadily on their watch as families can’t afford everything from gas to groceries.”

The president said he met with Mr. Powell “to discuss my top priority, that is addressing inflation in order to transition from historic recovery to a steady growth for American families.”

Mr. Biden insisted that he differs from former President Trump in not exerting public pressure on Fed officials. Mr. Trump repeatedly pressed the Fed during a period of strong economic growth to lower interest rates, and at one point in 2019 accused Mr. Powell and his fellow Fed board members of being “boneheads” for holding the economy back with their policies.

“My plan … to address inflation starts with a simple proposition: Respect the Fed, respect the Fed’s independence, which I have done and will continue to do,” Mr. Biden said.

The Oval Office meeting, which included Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, was the first time Mr. Biden had met with Mr. Powell since nominating him in November to serve a second four-year term as Fed chairman.

Mr. Biden said his relationship with the Federal Reserve, which has “a primary responsibility to control inflation,” is key to reducing costs for American families.

“My predecessor demeaned the Fed, and past presidents have sought to influence its decisions inappropriately during periods of elevated inflation,” he said. “I won’t do this. I have appointed highly qualified people from both parties to lead that institution.”

Beyond highlighting the central bank’s role, the president’s plan calls for further measures to fix broken supply chains, build affordable housing, and reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Mr. Biden’s plan calls on Congress to pass clean energy tax credits, which he said would reduce utility bills by $500 per year for the average American family “and accelerate our transition from energy produced by autocrats.”

He also proposed “common-sense” tax reforms and giving the Internal Revenue Service “the resources to collect taxes that Americans already owe.”

The White House is gearing up for a fight with congressional Republicans over its legislative proposals to fight inflation.

In the op-ed, Mr. Biden contrasts his plan to Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s “11 Point Plan to Rescue America” put forward in the spring, which the White House says would “would raise taxes on people making less than $100,000 and require that Congress reauthorize bedrock programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid every five years.”

“That would make American families poorer and more economically insecure,” Mr. Biden wrote.

Mr. Biden’s meeting with Mr. Powell on Tuesday is part of a concerted effort to communicate White House accomplishments on the economy to date and will kickstart a campaign to lay out its plan going forward.

“Talking about the economy and how we can put more money in the pockets of working families will be the key message being driven by the White House all month, in addition to work [that] will continue to communicate along parallel tracks, including combating gun violence,” a White House official said.

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