As the nation grapples with rising prices and COVID-19 cases, President Joe Biden delivered a blunt message to Americans on Monday: calm down, and vax up.
Biden started by reassuring voters that he was not in the vein of democratic socialists in his party and was, in fact, a committed capitalist. But he said he wanted the recovery to benefit middle-class and struggling Americans, with the help paid for by wealthy individuals and large corporations that have used the tax code to pay little or nothing in income taxes.
“I was told if I got elected, I’d bring the end to capitalism,” Biden said, chuckling at the notion. He mentioned an executive order he signed last week that contained 72 initiatives meant to increase competitiveness and fairness in the market. The order represents “the cornerstone of American capitalism,” Biden said Monday.
The president also touted the number of jobs created in his tenure, statingthe country had gone from creating 60,000 jobs per month to 60,000 in three days.
While the president did not mention politics or elections, those comments appeared aimed at suburban voters, who were pivotal in Biden’s 2020 win and who have been bombarded with ads and emails from Republicans saying the Democrats are under the spell of such self-described soicalists as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
“It turns out that American capitalism is alive and well. We’re making serious progress to make sure it works the way it’s supposed to for the American people,” Biden said. He said he wanted the economy to grow from the “middle out” and “the bottom up,” as opposed to “trickle-down economics” that he said have done nothing more than keep the wealthy, wealthy.
The president urged Americans to be calm about recently rising prices, saying the inflation was temporary and a result of supply-chain delays stemming from the pandemic. “You can’t flip the global economic light back on and not expect this to happen,” Biden said. “The disruptions are temporary,” but he pledged his administration, will remain vigilant” to assure that inflation does not become a long-term condition.
As he spoke, the stock market was headed toward one of its worst days of the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 900 points, or roughly 2.6%. Traders say the markets are worried about inflation and the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus. Others have pointed to the extreme valuations of many popular stocks.
A key part of getting the economy back on track, however, is getting more Americans vaccinated, Biden cautioned. More than 160 million Americans – and 80% of seniors, who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 – have been vaccinated, but the refusal or reluctance of millions of other Americans to get the shot is resulting in an increase in infections..
Biden said four states were home to 40% of new infections last week, and “these tragedies are avoidable” if people get the free and easily available doses.
“We can’t let up,” Biden said. “The only way we can put it behind us is if more people get vaccinated.”
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