President Biden on Thursday dismissed the Labor Department’s dismal inflation figures saying Americans have been battling rising costs “for years.”
The Consumer Price Index increased 0.4% in September after rising by 0.1% in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, exceeding expectations and showing that inflation remains a stubborn problem in the final monthly report before the midterm elections.
“Americans are squeezed by the cost of living: That’s been true for years, and they didn’t need today’s report to tell them that,” Mr. Biden said of the last major inflation numbers voters will see before November’s midterm elections.
He said the Labor Department figures show “some progress in the fight against higher prices,” noting that annual inflation has slowed compared to the prior quarter.
The annual inflation rate of 8.2% was down slightly from 8.3% in the previous month, though it remains a burden on consumers. Inflation reached a 41-year high of 9.1% in June.
“But even with this progress, prices are still too high,” he said. “Fighting the global inflation that is affecting countries around the world and working families here at home is my top priority.”
SEE ALSO: Prices climbed again in September, Labor Dept. says in final report before midterms
Democrats face stiff headwinds going into the next month’s midterms amid persistent inflation and an economic outlook that grows more gloomy by the day.
Mr. Biden, who is on a three-state tour out West to stump for his party, has pointed to the $740 billion tax-and-spending bill that he signed into law over the summer as the way out of choppy economic waters. Democrats say the law will eventually restrain inflationary pressures.
Critics, though, pan the measure as more government spending that will add to inflation rather than reduce it. Critics also point to other forms of spending under the administration, such as Mr. Biden‘s plan to write off billions in student loan debt, as compounding the problem.
“My policies — that Democrats delivered — directly tackle price pressures we saw in today’s report, like health care,” Mr. Biden said Thursday.
“The Inflation Reduction Act locks in lower health care premiums for 13 million people, lowers seniors’ prescription drug prices, and caps their out of pocket expenses for prescription drugs at the pharmacy at $2,000 per year,” he said. “The Inflation Reduction Act will also lower families’ energy costs in the months ahead.”
• Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this story.