WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden promoted his “Build Back Better” agenda at the White House on Wednesday, touting it as a benefit for American families in the long term.
“Jobs are up, and monthly price increases have come down. Economic growth is up to the fastest in 40 years, and unemployment is coming down,” Biden said. “But even with all this progress, a lot of families are still feeling the pinch. Family budgets remain tight, and paychecks don’t go as far as they need to. That has been a reality in the millions of households all across America for too long.”
The President noted that his administration is keeping a close eye on an increase in gas prices and inflation. This comes as the federal government confirmed the remains at an annual rate of 5.4% — a 20-year high.
Biden noted the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t increase gas prices but did recognize the high prices are hitting American families hard. The current average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. is $3.19, compared to $2.17 one year ago.
“I want to make sure that nothing stands in the way of oil price declines leading to lower prices for consumers,” Biden said. “So today, my director of the National Economic Council has asked the chair of the Federal Trade Commission to use every available tool to monitor the U.S. gasoline market, and address any illegal conduct that might be contributing to price increases at the pump while the cost of a barrel of oil is going down.”
Republicans have slammed the Biden administration over inflation and gas prices, an issue they will likely use against Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The President addressed his social spending plan, calling it a long-term investment in American families” that will have several benefits.
“The investments I am proposing will be fully paid for over the long term by having the largest corporations, including the 55 corporations that paid zero federal tax last year, and the super-wealthy begin to pay their fair share,” Biden said. “They will still make a lot of money but pay their fair share. That means it will actually reduce the national debt. It will improve our fiscal position over the long run.”
The House plans to return to Washington later this month after their vacation to consider the budget resolution. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has previously said the House will not vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure unless the Senate finalizes the $3.5 trillion plan.
The massive $3.5 trillion package is a key part of Biden’s agenda, which includes combating climate change, establish child care programs, expand Medicare and provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer knows he cannot afford to lose a single Democrat vote in a 50-50 Senate but he is already facing some pushback from moderate Democrats.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.,) released a statement on Wednesday morning, saying he is against the $3.5 trillion package due to the price tag.
“I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion,” Manchin said in a statement. “I firmly believe that continuing to spend at irresponsible levels puts at risk our nation’s ability to respond to the unforeseen crises our country could face. I urge my colleagues to seriously consider this reality as this budget process unfolds in the coming weeks and months.”