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Biden defends his handling of the economy amid latest rough inflation numbers

<i>Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>US President Joe Biden (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images via CNN Newsource
US President Joe Biden (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington

By Betsy Klein, CNN

Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden defended his handling of the economy hours after a key economic report found that progress on slowing inflation has stalled, a continued bane on Biden’s presidency.

US consumer prices picked up again last month, marking a 3.5% increase for the 12 months ended in March, according to the latest Consumer Price Index data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Inflation has dogged the president and his approval ratings on the economy have suffered as prices have soared following the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden pointed to success “dramatically” reducing the rate of inflation from 9% to 3% as he sought to convince Americans that “we’re better situated than we were when we took office, where inflation was skyrocketing.”

Inflation, however, began to rise in 2021 – Biden’s first year as president – as normalcy began to return to American life following the worst parts of the pandemic. It peaked in June 2022 as the rate of inflation reached 9.1%.

According to a CNN poll from earlier this year, a 55% majority of Americans overall say they feel Biden’s policies have worsened economic conditions in the country, while just 26% believe his policies have improved conditions. Another 19% say they’ve had no effect – numbers that are nearly unchanged from the summer.

A near-universal 91% of Republicans say that Biden’s policies have worsened the economy, while a more modest 55% majority of Democrats say that his policies have improved things. Biden’s approval rating for handling the economy, which hasn’t broken the 40% mark since December 2021, currently stands at 37% among the full public.

Republicans, Biden said, have “no plan.”

“We have a plan to deal with it whereas the opposition – my opposition – talks about two things. They just want to cut taxes for the wealthy and raise taxes on other people. And so I think they have no plan. Our plan is one, I think, is so sustainable,” he told reporters in the Rose Garden.

Wednesday’s report further highlights that the path to lower inflation remains extremely bumpy — and continue to be a drag on Americans’ finances — and that any loosening of monetary policy might not happen soon.

The president stood by his prediction that there will be a cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, and that could happen “before the year is out,” though he cautioned that it could be delayed.

“We don’t know what the Fed is going to do for certain,” he reiterated.

US stocks tanked Wednesday after the release of the hotter-than-expected inflation data, with the blue-chip Dow falling by more than 500 points. The S&P 500 lost 1% and the Nasdaq Composite fell by 1%.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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