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Biden sells strategy to stop inflation, calls on Congress to help end reliance on foreign energy

"Republicans would offer plenty of blame, but not a single solution to bring down energy prices," President Biden said on Tuesday.

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Biden sells strategy to stop inflation, calls on Congress to help end reliance on foreign energy
President Joe Biden will outline a strategy Tuesday to tackle rising inflation and get the federal deficit under control. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

May 10 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden's administration unveiled a plan Tuesday that makes clear the problem of rising inflation and lays out steps to control rising energy prices in the United States, as well as lower the federal deficit.

The White House said the plan leans heavily on controlling the rising cost of energy -- which has been the primary driver of inflation over the past year -- by reducing foreign dependence.

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Gas prices and inflation are on the rise nationwide. AAA said on Monday that prices have returned to the high levels that were seen in March -- well above $4 per gallon -- and they're only expected to get higher with Memorial Day and the summer driving season approaching.

In fact, the national average leaped by five cents from Monday to Tuesday -- from $4.32 to $4.37. That's an increase of 17 cents over the past week and 26 cents over the past month.

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In remarks from the White House on Tuesday, Biden outlined his ongoing strategy -- some steps of which have been in effect for weeks, and some that are still to come. Others need help from Congress, where Biden said that Republicans aren't doing much to help.

"Inflation is our top economic challenge right now," the president said in a speech outlining the strategy. "We have built a strong economy with a strong job market."

"Americans have two potential paths forward," he added. "The first is my plan, the Democratic plan. The plan put forth by congressional Republicans is the other path forward.

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"My plan is to lower everyday costs for hard-working Americans and lower the deficit by asking large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to not engage in price gouging and to pay their fair share in taxes.

"The Republican plan is to increase taxes on the middle-class families, let billionaires and large companies off the hook as they raise prices and reap profits in record amounts. And it's really that simple."

The White House strategy notes three main steps to lower energy costs and foreign dependence -- curbing the effect of the war in Ukraine, lowering energy bills and moving toward "real" energy independence by transitioning away from fossil fuels like gasoline.

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Some of the actions laid out Tuesday have been taken -- such as releasing 180 million barrels of oil from the strategic U.S. reserve and allowing the sale of E15 gasoline in the summer months.

Biden said he's calling on Congress to pass clean energy and vehicle tax credits to cut dependence on "reckless autocrats" like Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and is responsible for thousands of deaths and millions of refugees in the former Soviet republic.

"From tax credits for businesses to produce renewable energy to tax credits for families to make their homes more energy efficient, I met with CEOs of America's largest utility companies ... and they confirmed that if we pass the investments I'm talking about it will immediately lower families' utility bill by as much as $500 a year," he said in his remarks Tuesday.

As part of the strategy, Biden said that he will tax oil companies for "sitting" on leased federal lands which could produce more oil. He said the unused lands are helping to drive up costs.

"Under the Republican plan, they'd be allowed to continue to sit on this land without producing while shipping record profits back to their investors."

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As inflation and higher gas prices are expected to be major issues for Democrats in the midterm elections this fall, Biden's remarks were particularly critical of congressional Republicans.

"Republicans would offer plenty of blame, but not a single solution to bring down energy prices," he said.

"You don't have to take my word for it. It's in writing. They have made their intentions perfectly clear."

"Republicans, led by Sen. Rick Scott, have called for a new minimum tax on the middle class," the White House said in a statement earlier Tuesday. "That would mean an average of almost $1,500 less in families' pockets each year.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden suspended a federal rule to allow the sale of gasoline with a higher ethanol blend, known as E15, during the summer months. The move should increase fuel efficiency and save money for drivers, officials said. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

"And ... the congressional Republican plan would put Medicare -- in addition to Social Security, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and other critical programs for American families -- on the chopping block every five years.

"Congressional Republicans have put forward no real plan to lower energy costs. While they point fingers, the president is taking action."

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Biden also outlined five points in the strategy to improve "other everyday costs" for American families -- lowering drug and health costs, lowering food prices, repairing infrastructure and supply chains, bringing down the cost of child care and lowering housing costs.

Those efforts include fixing the "family glitch" in the Affordable Care Act, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, investing in American farmers to provide more food, saving families thousands on child care and constructing more homes to bring down the costs of living.

The Labor Department's Consumer Price Index for March -- a top indicator of inflation -- increased by 8.5% for the 12 months ending in March. It was the largest one-year jump since 1981. On Wednesday, the department will release the index for April, which economists estimate will show an annual hike of 8.1% by last month.

Concerns about inflation have also weighed on Wall Street. The Dow on Monday tumbled to its lowest level in more than a year and the S&P 500 fell below 4,000 for the first time since April 2021.

Following the move by the Federal Reserve last week to raise interest rates by a half-point, Biden said the government this quarter would reduce the national debt for the first time in six years. Biden said that is "one way to ease inflationary pressures."

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Lisa Monaco, deputy attorney general, speaks during the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Police Executives Forum on Friday. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

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