President Joe Biden on Tuesday expressed sympathy with Americans facing soaring prices while attacking a Republican plan to address rising inflation in the US.
As Americans fret over consumer costs that have pushed prices more than 8 per cent higher compared to last year, the president highlighted efforts he has made to mitigate the situation, including tapping the nation's strategic oil reserves and pressuring companies to lower costs.
“I know that families all across America are hurting because of inflation,” Mr Biden said in remarks from the White House.
“I want every American to know and I'm taking inflation very seriously and it's my top domestic priority.”
The situation has prompted the US Federal Reserve to take aggressive action to control inflation. The US central bank last week raised interest rates by half a percentage point and signalled its willingness to raise rates again later this year.
Mr Biden blamed “global challenges” such as the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain issues and Russia's invasion of Ukraine for the higher prices.
The invasion has led to skyrocketing prices at the pump, with petrol reaching a record average of $4.37 per gallon on Monday, the American Automobile Association reported.
With the US midterm elections approaching, the president sharpened his rhetoric against Republicans in an effort to salvage the Democratic Party's prospects of maintaining control of Congress.
Mr Biden aimed his criticism in particular at Rick Scott, a US senator from Florida whose “Rescue America” proposal — according to the White House — would cost middle-class families an additional $1,500 a year in taxes.
The president called the plan, which the White House claimed would increase taxes on 75 million Americans, “kind of backwards”.
“They don't want to solve inflation by lowering your costs. They want to solve it by raising your taxes and lowering your income,” he said.
In a statement released before the president's speech, Mr Scott said: “the most effective thing Joe Biden can do to solve the inflation crisis he created is resign”.
The Biden administration last year was hopeful that inflation would be “transitory”, but its persistence prompted Mr Biden on Tuesday not to make a prediction of when it will end.
Mr Biden's approval rating has dropped to 41 per cent and Americans have cited inflation as the most important problem they face today, polls conducted by Gallup show.
Republicans hope to capitalise on the issue before the midterm elections in November by promoting steps to loosen oil and gas regulations while cutting government spending. But the party has yet to endorse a policy outlining steps to tackle inflation.
Reuters contributed to this report