President Biden blamed Russia’s war on Ukraine for rising prices in the U.S., while vowing on Wednesday to lower the costs of farming and food during a visit to an Illinois family farm.
In an effort to salvage Democrats’ prospects in the midterm elections, Mr. Biden shirked responsibility for rising prices and placed the blame squarely on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“America is fighting on two fronts. At home, it’s inflation and rising prices. Abroad, it’s helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry because Russian atrocities exist,” Mr. Biden said. “The American farmers understand the war has cut off critical sources of food.”
Mr. Biden announced actions he said will lower costs for U.S. farmers, reducing prices for consumers at the grocery store. Those steps include doubling funding for domestic fertilizer production and increasing technical assistance for farmers.
Mr. Biden’s trip to the midwest came just hours after a Labor Department report signaled that inflation is continuing to soar, with little hope of waning anytime soon.
Republicans have hammered Mr. Biden on the issue, insisting he doesn’t have a plan to fix rising consumer prices.
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The Consumer Price Index, a key measure of inflation, increased at an annualized rate of 8.3% in April compared with last year. That also is slightly higher than the Wall Street forecasts, which estimated an 8.1% gain. It is still close to the highest level of inflation since the summer of 1982.
Removing volatile food and energy prices, core consumer prices surged 6.2%, topping expectations for a 6% increase, again dashing hopes inflation had peaked.
Food prices alone jumped 9.4% over the past twelve months through April.
Mr. Biden said Russia’s attack on Ukraine has reduced the global supply of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds and cooking oils. As a result, Mr. Biden said, food prices have increased by 13% globally.
“Because of what the Russians are doing in the Black Sea — Putin has warships, battleships preventing access to Ukrainian ports to get this wheat out,” he said. “A brutal war launched on Ukrainian soil has prevented Ukrainian farmers from planting next year’s crop and next year’s harvest.”
The U.S. does not import any wheat or other grains from Ukraine or Russia but combined, they export nearly 35% of all of the grain produced globally.