WASHINGTON (TND) — President Joe Biden now says fighting inflation is his top domestic priority.
In a speech Monday, he outlined three steps to address it: lower the cost of necessities like energy and prescription drugs, ease supply chain bottlenecks and raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
The president says Congress must get involved in order to implement some of these steps, but Republicans don’t support it.
“Once again, continue to provide more stimulus to an economy that can’t take the stimulus that’s already been provided,” said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
"These Democratic price hikes will likely be American families' new normal,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Right now, 55% of the country says they believe the president's policies have made economic conditions worse while 68% disapprove of his handling of inflation specifically. Four in 10 people say they worry about not having enough money to pay monthly bills.
The next Consumer Price Index release will come Wednesday. Economists predict that it will show an 8.1% increase in April prices year-over-year. That's a slight drop from March but still near a record high.
Gas prices are hitting new highs as well, only adding to inflationary pressures felt nationwide.
The national average has climbed $0.17 in the past week alone. It now sits at $4.37 a gallon, wiping out the previous record of $4.33 set back in March.
One analyst says Americans could be paying $4.50 a gallon on average in the next 10 days.
"I’m seeing almost a 25% increase in my fill-up price. So, like, before it used to cost me $45. Now it’s like $60, $65,” driver Ibrahim Khokhar said.
Like so many others, Khokhar says he’s now changing some daily habits due to rising prices.
"I’ve started kind of doing the math and how much each mile basically costs me. So it’s like $0.10, $0.15, so it’s like, is it really worth going to hang out with my friends?” said Khokhar.
Haynes Jordan says he’s making some of the same sacrifices.
"I don’t go out as much nearly," Jordan said. "It’s more back and forth, home to work and if I’m going out, then I’m catching a ride with friends."
The national average dipped to $4.07 a gallon in April after a record-setting release of oil from the emergency reserves but industry analysts predicted, at the time, short-lived relief.
"I’m not surprised that we’ve set new records for the retail price of gasoline,” said Andy Lipoew with Lipow Oil Associates.
Lipow tells the National Desk that natural gas prices are even more volatile than gasoline, so consumers should prepare for sticker shock this summer.
"Higher electricity bills, higher home water heating bills, higher cooking costs. Natural gas is used to produce fertilizer so you can see how that would trickle through to higher food costs," Lipow said.
When you adjust for inflation, real gas prices would need to climb above $5.30 a gallon to break records set back in 2008. Still, drivers are emphatic that a reversal is desperately needed.