White House press secretary says Americans are ‘well positioned’ to deal with economic challenges

When asked about the White House’s reaction to the stock market tumble, including any gains made since Biden took office last year, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the White House was monitoring the situation closely.

“We know that families are concerned about inflation and the stock market. It’s something that the president is really aware of,” she said at Monday’s press conference, adding that the United United were “not the only country to face what we are seeing at the moment regarding inflation.”

The press secretary went on to blame the ongoing war in Ukraine and inflation caused by the global emergence of pandemic shutdowns as factors playing into the current state of the economy.

But Jean-Pierre argued that despite the falling stock market and a host of other troubling economic indicators, the White House believes Americans are in better shape to deal with economic problems than before entering. according to Biden.

“The way we see this is that the American people are well positioned to face these challenges because of the economic and historic gains we have made … under this president over the past 16 months,” she continued. .

The jobless rate remains at 3.6% – slightly above the half-century low recorded in February 2020, but Americans’ wallets are being hurt by the rising cost of goods and falling stock values .

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline recently hit $5 for the first time ever, according to AAA. Consumer confidence hit an all-time high, according to data released last week. And on Friday, a miserable Consumer Price Index report showed US inflation was significantly higher than economists had expected last month, boosting Monday’s stock market moves.

U.S. stocks plunged into a bear market on Monday as investors grew increasingly nervous over the prospect of even harsher rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, which are meant to dampen some of the inflation.

After raising rates by half a point in May – a step the Fed had not taken since 2000 – Chairman Jerome Powell promised the same until the central bank was convinced that inflation was under control. At that point, the Fed would resume standard quarter-point hikes, he said.

But after May’s hotter-than-expected inflation report, Wall Street is increasingly calling for tougher action from the Fed to keep prices in check.

Pressed by the effect potential retirees may feel following the fall in value of their 401k, Jean-Pierre said: “We know that high prices have a real effect on people’s lives. We understand that. , and we are incredibly committed to doing everything we can to make sure the economy works for the American people. But we are emerging from the strongest jobs market in American history, and that matters. And it ‘is largely thanks to America’s Bailout Plan.’

She also pushed back against the idea that the US bailout, a massive Covid-19 relief bill, signed into law last year, has led to historic inflation, even though government spending is known to drive inflation. . The bailout has been cited by critics as one of many contributing factors to the current state of the economy.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier this month that Biden’s signature $1.9 trillion plan, which included stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits and various other forms of relief, contributed only modestly to inflation.

Yellen played down the inflationary impact of the stimulus package, instead pointing to the “miraculously rapid recovery” of the economy.

Later in Monday’s press conference, Jean-Pierre also said that gasoline prices “would have been even worse” had Biden not taken action to deal with expected oil supply shocks. . The president authorized a record release of the country’s oil reserves earlier this year, but prices have only risen since then.
The White House is in the midst of a month-long effort to signal a focus on the economy and inflation. But earlier this month, the president acknowledged there was little more he could do to reduce the cost of gas or food immediately.

“There’s a lot going on right now, but the idea that we’re going to be able to flip a switch, get the cost of gas down, isn’t likely in the short term. It’s also not in when it comes to food,” Biden said at the White House.

CNN’s David Goldman and Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

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