Jan. 25 (UPI) — President Joe Biden and members of his White House Competition Council met for a second time Monday as the administration seeks to rein in a politically damaging surge of inflation.
Biden said he and the council — which includes cabinet members such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Attorney General Merrick Garland — were meeting to lay out their top priorities for reducing inflation over the next six months.
Its first meeting was held in September.
“You’re going to make a difference in ordinary people’s lives,” Biden told members after opening the session by outlining his anti-inflation strategy, which is largely based on attacking “anti-competitive” business practices that drive up consumer costs and hold down wages.
Since he took office a year ago, Biden has been plagued with record-high inflation and supply bottlenecks that have pushed up costs of some goods. Both are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, the Labor Department said that U.S. inflation rose in 2021 at the fastest rate since 1982.
Despite the limited tools the White House has to battle inflation, the situation has contributed to lagging poll numbers for the president as the country heads into midterm elections later this year.
In response, the president in July signed an executive order calling for a “whole of government” approach to enhancing competition in the economy and creating the cross-agency council.
In signing the order, Biden said families are paying higher prices for necessities — things like prescription drugs, hearing aids and Internet service — due to lack of competition, resulting in “workers have less opportunity to bargain for a higher wage and to demand dignity and respect in the workplace.”
The president reiterated Monday that higher prices and lower wages caused by lack of competition “are now estimated to cost the median American household $5,000 per year.”
Despite the troubling economic indicators, Biden has said recently that there are signs of progress to be found and that his administration will do everything possible to stimulate the economy.
“In July, I signed an executive order to promote competition and build an economy that works for everyone,” Biden said in a tweet Monday.
“This afternoon, I’ll be meeting with members of my competition council to discuss our progress on lowering costs for working families and how we can accelerate our efforts.”
Biden touted the bipartisan infrastructure law that passed last year and said it will address some of the supply chain issues that have pushed prices higher.
“When we move stuff faster through ports, when bridges don’t have weight restrictions, when there’s less traffic on our roads — that’s how we resolve supply chain problems and get goods to people quicker and cheaper,” he tweeted. “The bipartisan infrastructure law is helping make it happen.”