On the day that gas prices hit a new all-time high in the United States — $3.47 per gallon, according to AAA — President Biden acknowledged that families are hurting and said he wanted Americans to know that he is taking inflation very seriously.
"I know that families all across America are hurting because of inflation," Biden said to reporters at the White House. "I come from a family where when the price of gas or food went up, we felt it."
The president said that reducing inflation is his top domestic priority and he touted steps already taken by his administration that he says are helping to mitigate its negative impacts, such as releasing crude oil from the nation's emergency stockpile and expanding access to cheaper E15 ethanol.
Biden says there are two leading causes of the current high inflation:
“The first cause of inflation is a once-in-a-century pandemic,” said Biden. “Not only did it shut down the global economy, it threw the supply chains and demand completely out of whack.”
Second, Biden says, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further disrupted the global economy and has particularly pushed fuel prices higher.
“We saw in March that 60 percent of the inflation that month was due to price increases at the pump.”
The president said the war is also causing food prices to go up, as Ukraine is one of the world’s leading exporters of wheat.
Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, however, put the brunt of the blame for the highest inflation in 40 years on Biden himself.
"When you look at the curve of when inflation started," said Rep, Kevin Hern (R-OK1), "it was in February of last year."
Congressman Hern and others in the state's delegation say it's not just coincidence that prices started climbing just after Biden took office and he was pushing through the American Rescue Plan.
“Clearly, you can point back to the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package that was passed very quickly after President Biden took office and pushing the Democrats to do so,” said Hern in a recent interview, “when there was still $1.2 trillion that had not been spent in the economy.”
But Biden believes the nation would be worse off had Democrats not provided that additional aid and says, for all the Republican criticism, they offer no viable alternative.
"They don't want to solve inflation by lowering your costs." said Biden, "they want to solve it by raising your taxes and lowering your income."