BALTIMORE (Businesshala) – President Joe Biden’s maiden visit to celebrate a long-sought congressional victory over infrastructure was surrounded by new figures showing inflation not seen in more than 30 years. Biden, who ran on his ability to whip up COVID-19 and revive the economy that was left in a shambles by the pandemic, now faces mounting political pressure over commodity shortages and rising prices as society returns to life comes in.
“Consumer prices remain very high,” Biden said at the Port of Baltimore. “We still have challenges that we have to face bravely.”
The comments came hours after the Labor Department reported here that US consumer prices rose 6.2% in the 12 months through October, the biggest year-on-year jump since November 1990.
Broad-based gains from pork chops to gasoline, sports tickets and health insurance suggested the issue was not a one-time one, as the White House largely maintained until 2021.
On Wednesday, Biden described reversing inflation as a “top priority for me.”
The trip would have been more than a victory lap in different circumstances. Lawmakers here on Friday passed a trillion-dollar infrastructure package that Biden handled after months of harrowing talks.
The Port of Baltimore is one of the busiest ports in the country, and it is set to benefit from the billions of dollars that the bill has set aside for ports alone.
Port congestion is one of the major issues. Goods ordered months in advance from abroad wait to be unloaded at sea and transported inland.
Issues like those have turned Biden’s White House into an economic emergency response team. Biden spoke to companies here on Tuesday, including Walmart and UPS, to make sure they are prepared for skyrocketing demand during the Christmas holidays. His partners worked with the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to move goods round the clock.
The infrastructure package includes a $17 billion investment here to help the ports, including dredging to allow larger ships and capacity expansion.
The Port of Baltimore imports and exports more autos, agricultural machinery, and construction equipment than any other US port. It employs more than 15,300 people.
Economic concerns have created political issues for Biden. The Democratic president has seen his popularity dwindle in recent months. His party is looking forward to the 2022 mid-term elections, when he will have to defend his thin Congress majority.
Now, Biden is trying to close a deal on a proposal to expand the country’s social safety net and fight climate change for about $1.75 trillion.
Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who holds a virtual veto on Biden’s agenda given Congress’ narrow margins, said on Wednesday that politicians “can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day.”
Manchin previously expressed concern that the new spending bill could increase inflation, a notion disputed by White House officials and several independent economists.