WASHINGTON, March 1 (Xinhua) — U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday night outlined a plan to tackle the persistently high inflation in his first State of the Union address, touting the administration’s economic achievements and pushing his economic agenda.

Noting that his top priority was getting prices under control, the U.S. president laid out a four-point plan: making more products in America, reducing everyday costs, promoting fair competition to lower prices and eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs for workers. “With all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth and higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills,” Biden said in his speech to a joint session of Congress. “Inflation is robbing them of the gains they might otherwise feel.” The president’s remarks came as stubbornly high inflation in the country is eroding businesses’ profit margins and households’ purchasing power, casting shadow over growth prospects.
According to data released by the Commerce Department on Friday, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the U.S. Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, rose 6.1 percent annually in January, the fastest annual pace in four decades. Economists at the Wells Fargo Securities said in a recent analysis that they expected the core PCE deflator, which is currently up 5.2 percent year over year, to still be up 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter — well above the Fed’s target and most recent estimates. In his speech, Biden touted the 1.9-trillion-dollar COVID-19 relief plan and the infrastructure law, arguing that the administration’s efforts had led to a strong job market and robust economic recovery.

The State of the Union address came at a time when debt as a share of the economy is on track to surpass record levels within a decade. Biden blamed the previous administration for ballooning the deficit “with tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations,” and renewed his push for a reform in the tax system. “The one thing all Americans agree on is that the tax system is not fair. We have to fix it,” he said. “I’m not looking to punish anyone. But let’s make sure corporations and the wealthiest Americans start paying their fair share.” Biden also reiterated key points in his economic agenda, urging Congress to pass legislations to create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program and raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and to allow every worker to organize or join a union and bargain collectively with their employer.