Biden Admits Inflation ‘Too High’ but Deflects Blame, Scolds Businesses

Biden Admits Inflation ‘Too High’ but Deflects Blame, Scolds Businesses
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Woodside, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2023. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

President Joe Biden admitted during a press conference on Nov. 27 that inflation is “too high” but appeared to shift the blame on companies he accused of price gouging.

President Biden made the comments during a press conference at the White House during which he touted his administration’s efforts to strengthen the supply chain and lower costs for American families.

“Today, our supply chains are stronger than ever, with backlogs, bottlenecks, and shipping rates at a 25-year low. We’ve created 14 million new jobs, including 800,000 manufacturing jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate has stayed below 4 percent for the longest period—the longest stretch in over 50 years. And wages for working families have gone up while inflation has come down 65 percent—giving families a little more money in their pockets and a little more breathing room this holiday season.”

“But we know the prices are still too high for too many things, that times are still too tough for too many families. But we’ve made progress, but we have more work to do,” President Biden continued.

The President then took a swipe at companies, whom he argued should lower prices.

“Let me be clear: Any corporation that has not brought their prices back down—even as inflation has come down, even as supply chains have been rebuilt—it’s time to stop the price gouging. Give the American consumer a break,” he added.

Inflation Eases From Peak

The president has blamed inflation on an array of issues including the supply chain crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was launched in February 2022.

However, Republican lawmakers argue the significant rise in the cost of living was triggered by the Democratic leader’s large spending packages, such as the $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief he signed into law in 2021.

His comments come as inflation eased to roughly 3.2 percent year-over-year in October from its recent peak of 9 percent in June 2022. Meanwhile, the core CPI, which does not include volatile energy and food components, eased to 4 percent.

Still, the cumulative price increases since President Biden took office have been around 17 percent, forcing Americans to splash out more for everything from food to housing, and the recent slowdown in rising prices has done little to quell the financial market’s optimism about the economy.

The lack of optimism is also shared by Americans, according to The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, which found that year-ahead inflation expectations rose to 4.5 percent in November, up from 4.2 percent in October, reaching its highest reading since April 2023.

Biden Vows to Tackle Junk Fees

During Monday’s press conference, President Biden repeated his promise to tackle “junk fees”—hidden charges that companies sneak into bills—as part of his efforts to bring down the cost of living.

“Junk fees take real money out of the pockets of average Americans,” he said. “They can add up to hundreds of dollars, weighing down family budgets and making it harder for a family to pay their bills. And they feel like they’re being played for suckers, which they are.”

The president went on to take aim at “MAGA Republicans” whose policies he said would “undo this progress we’re making.”

President Biden accused GOP lawmakers of proposing cuts to investments in roads, bridges, and high-speed Internet as well in infrastructure and advanced manufacturing, which he said could lead to job losses, among other things.

Republicans have demanded deep cuts to what they see as out-of-control government spending.

Elsewhere during Monday’s press conference, President Biden claimed that this year’s Thanksgiving dinner was the “fourth-cheapest ever on record” despite the American Farm Bureau’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost survey finding that the cost of an average Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is still 25 percent higher than it was in 2019.

The survey, did note, however, that the cost of the centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables, the turkey, has helped bring down overall costs this year, with the average price for a 16-pound turkey sitting at $27.35 in 2023, down 5.6 percent from last year.

Still, the average Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people this year came in at $61.17, according to the survey.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.