This time last year, Democratic strategists had hoped Biden and his Democratic colleagues in Congress would be out on the campaign trail this spring pointing to America’s roaring comeback after the dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Price and supply shocks are already materializing,” Yellen said, “adding to global inflationary pressures, creating risks to external balances, and undermining the recovery from the pandemic. I want to be clear: Russia’s actions are responsible for this. But the United States is urgently working with our partners and allies to help mitigate the effects of Russia’s reckless war on the world’s most vulnerable.”
Limitations of Biden’s power
The White House framed Biden’s trip to Portsmouth as a chance to show how he is using all the tools at his disposal to bring down prices for Americans while making investments in the nation’s infrastructure to move goods more quickly and efficiently.
While Tuesday’s focus was on the bipartisan infrastructure law he signed last year, the most memorable part of Biden’s speech was his solemn attempt to prepare Americans for continuing economic turbulence ahead, as he argued that he was doing his best to deliver on his campaign promise to “build this economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”
“The fact is that we are in a situation where the war in Ukraine is going to continue to take its toll on the world economy. It’s going to take its toll on energy. It’s going to take its toll relative to food,” Biden said.
He noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world.” Calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a big reason for inflation,” Biden worked in the administration’s gimmicky phrase explaining the surge in gas and energy prices as “Putin’s price hike” — an attempt to blunt GOP messaging about high prices being his own fault.
“An awful lot of people are hurting. It makes a big difference, it makes a big difference — the cost of a dozen eggs, the cost of a gallon of gasoline, it matters,” the President said, alluding to his own financial struggles earlier in his life to underscore his empathy for what Americans are going through.
While it is proving difficult for many Americans to connect their pressing pocketbook concerns to infrastructure improvements that will unfold over several years, at the Port Authority in Portsmouth Biden tried to emphasize how billions of dollars of improvements at America’s ports — through the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law — could alleviate supply chain problems that have hampered the nation’s economic recovery.
He noted that the port in Portsmouth supports more than 2,300 jobs, emphasizing how a recently completed $18.2 million Army Corps of Engineers project to widen the turning basin in Portsmouth Harbor had made it “easier, faster, and cheaper and safer for ships to get in and out.” Without a planned $1.7 million dredging project that was included in the new infrastructure law, the port might have had to turn business away, he said.
“We’re sending a message. This port is open for business and will be for a long time,” the President said.
“There’s so much more in this law,” Biden said after detailing repairs to roads and bridges, the efforts to ensure clean drinking water by upgrading aging pipes, and the expansion of access to high-speed internet. “I’m not going to bore you with the rest of it — it’s significant. Look, we’ve made a lot of progress and we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us. But we know that families are still struggling with higher prices.”
In a nod to independent voters in the region, Hassan emphasized her work with Republicans in Congress to get the infrastructure measure passed, citing the investments as “the foundation for making sure that New Hampshire’s families, small businesses and our entire economy can thrive.”