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Biden’s Plan B on Inflation: Turn It Against Trump

President Biden and his economic team had high hopes about how two years of rapid inflation would play out in the months leading to the November presidential election. Price growth would continue to cool. The Federal Reserve would cut interest rates. Mortgage rates and other borrowing costs would fall. Consumer moods would improve, and so would Mr. Biden’s re-election prospects.

What’s happening instead is more problematic. The inflation fight has stalled. Consumer prices are rising more slowly than they did a year ago, but still hovering at an annual growth rate that is higher than the Fed’s 2 percent target. Investors are recalibrating their expectations for when — or even if — interest rates might start to come down this year.

Mr. Biden is recalibrating as well, as both a Fed forecaster and a politician.

On Wednesday, after the latest inflation data showed an unexpected acceleration in price gains, Mr. Biden again tried to assure voters that he is focused on bringing down the cost of groceries, housing and other staples of everyday life, saying in a statement that “fighting inflation remains my top economic priority.”

Then he waded into the thorny territory of commenting on how the Fed, which is independent of the White House, might set interest-rate policy in an election year.

“I do stand by my prediction that before the year is out there will be a rate cut,” the president said when asked about the Consumer Price Index report. “This may delay it a month or so. I’m not sure of that. I don’t, we don’t know what the Fed is going to do for certain.”

A beat later, he added a veiled shot at his Republican opponent, former President Donald J. Trump.

“We’re better situated than we were when we took office where we — inflation was skyrocketing,” Mr. Biden said. “And we have a plan to deal with it, whereas the opposition — my opposition talks about two things. They just want to cut taxes for the wealthy and raise taxes on other people.”

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