Biden claims his policies 'help, not hurt' inflation

Inflation has increased at the fastest rate in 40 years, but Biden says the pandemic and Russia are to blame

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President Biden on Tuesday laid out his plan to tackle inflation, which he says is his "top domestic priority," claiming that his policies will "help, not hurt," while warning against Republican plans and what he calls their "ultra-MAGA" agenda.

Inflation numbers released last month revealed a new four-decade high in March as Russia's war on Ukraine fueled rapid price gains for oil and gas that wiped out the benefits of rising wages for most Americans.

BIDEN TO OUTLINE 'PLAN TO TACKLE INFLATION,' DRAW CONTRAST BETWEEN HIS ADMINISTRATION AND 'ULTRA-MAGA' PLANS

The consumer price index rose 8.5% in March from a year ago, according to the Labor Department report released Tuesday, marking the fastest increase since January 1982 when inflation hit 8.4%. The CPI, which measures a bevy of goods ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents, jumped 1.2% in the period from January.

The president said Tuesday that he is "taking inflation very seriously" and called it "my top domestic priority."

"Biden said the "once in a century pandemic" and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine were the two drivers of inflation, not his administration's policies.

The president said his plan is "to lower and lower and lower everyday costs for hardworking Americans and lower the deficit by asking large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to not engage in price gouging and to pay their fair share in taxes." 

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In contrast, Biden said Republicans' plan "is to increase taxes on the middle class families, let billionaires and large companies off the hook as they raise prices, and rep profits of record amounts."

"My plan attacks tax inflation and grows the economy,  by lowering costs for working families, giving workers well-deserved raises, reducing the deficit by historic levels, making big corporations, the very wealthiest Americans pay their fair share," Biden said.

Biden decried what he called the "ultra-MAGA" plan from some congressional Republicans

When asked whether his administration would take any responsibility for inflation, the president stressed that his policies and plans are working to address the issue.

"I think our policies help, not hurt," Biden said.

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When pressed again by a reporter on whether the Biden administration bears some measure of responsibility for the record-high inflation, the president pointed to "power." 

"We control all three branches of the government," Biden said. "Well, we don’t really."

The president pointed to the 50-50 party split in the Senate.

"You need 60 votes to get things done. I’ve been pushing the things I’ve been proposing here… since I’ve got in office, and I need to get 60 votes to be able to even pass."

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The president on Tuesday focused on his commitment tor release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the next 6 months, and his approval of selling E15 fuel throughout United States through the summer to lower prices and "reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reckless autocrats like Putin."

Biden slammed Republicans for offering "plenty of blame" with regard to gas prices, which soared to record-highs on Tuesday, but said they have not offered "a single solution to actually bring down the energy prices." 

According to AAA's average gas price calculator, the national average cost of a regular gallon of gasoline hit $4.374 on Tuesday, the highest ever according to AAA.

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Meanwhile, the president drawing a contrast between his administration's policies and Republicans comes as he is ramping up for the midterm elections. The president, in recent weeks, has started rolling out endorsements for Democrats, hitting the campaign trail for fundraisers, underscoring his agenda and working to "sharpen the contrast" between his administration and congressional Republicans, a Biden adviser told Fox News last month. 

Part of Biden's key strategy on the campaign trail, the adviser said, will be to "sharpen the contrast" between Democrats and Republicans.

Fox News' Pat Ward and Hillary Vaughan contributed to this report.