(NewsNation) — The effects of inflation can be seen almost everywhere, from the stock market to grocery stores, prompting the White House to put a new emphasis on the economy this week.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ and S&P are all down double digits since the start of the year largely due to concerns about rampant inflation. All three are on pace for another losing week pending a major unexpected turnaround Friday — marking the seventh straight weekly decline for the Dow and the sixth for the NASDAQ. S&P futures were up slightly Friday morning, though.
Although the inflation rate went down to 8.3% in April from 8.5% last month, it is still the highest it’s been in decades.
President Joe Biden is blaming, in part, Russian President Vladimir Putin for price hikes on energy because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And Biden this week attacked Republicans for what he calls their “ultra-MAGA” policies, and not having a real plan to fight rising prices. Biden’s reference to his predecessor Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” has emerged as the White House hopes for a pre-midterms reset for Democrats.
Meanwhile, Republicans are blaming Biden’s COVID stimulus packages for the problem. Republicans have not come together on a plan, but Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida has proposed raising income taxes on all Americans and sunsetting programs like Social Security and Medicare. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has outright rejected that plan.
Biden argued that Scott’s idea for potential tax hikes would make it harder for families to afford food, housing and transportation. Scott, firing back on Tuesday, called for Biden to resign, arguing the president doesn’t have a plan.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden laid out a multipart plan Thursday that included lowering the price of high-speed internet for millions of Americans, giving farmers tools to boost production and releasing 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The $45 billion the Biden administration took steps to release this week is part of the $65 billion for broadband in the $1 trillion infrastructure package signed into law last year. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said universal access to broadband internet would be akin to the electrification of rural America during the 1930s. Officials said the money will ensure every U.S. resident has access to high-speed internet by roughly 2028.
“What is the plan on the other side? We all recognize it’s a problem,” Psaki said. “But if you open the cupboard door, there’s nothing there. And that’s the issue.”
The president has said that he can feel the frustration on this issue from Americans. It is a major issue, not only right now but also for the upcoming midterm elections.
“Look, I know you’ve got to be frustrated,” he said Tuesday. “I know, I can taste it. Frustrated by high prices, by gridlock in Congress, by the time it takes to get anything done.”
Even as inflation continues to be a thorn in many sides, another economic indicator, unemployment, still remains at it lowest level in more than five decades. While the number of Americans applying for jobless aid ticked up slightly last week, the total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending April 30 fell by 44,000 from the previous week to 1,343,000. That’s the fewest since Jan. 3, 1970.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.