President Biden set to address the economy during remarks Thursday in Greensboro

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to Greensboro on Thursday afternoon, where he is expected to discuss efforts to expand manufacturing, rebuild supply chains and cut costs.

The trip comes hot on the heels of a recent Consumer Price Index report which showed inflation rose to 8.5% over the past twelve months, with energy costs accounting for the bulk of the totals.

“I look at the prices of plane tickets to visit a friend and they’re everywhere. They’re going up more and more. My biggest cost is fuel when it comes to my job. But the rest of the stuff, I I am still a coupon cutter and try to stay as efficient as possible at grocery stores,” said Starr Markham, who lost her job during the pandemic.

Markham works at DPAC and relied on unemployment and his savings when the theater industry was forced to close.

“There’s no sidewalk or takeout in the entertainment industry, so we were off,” Markham said.

With COVID-19 measures improving, events have returned and Markham is grateful to have returned to work; however, it now costs him more to drive to work.

“It’s a global issue if you pay attention to the news that’s going on, and I think our leaders need to treat this as a very real global issue. And that’s where I think they need to come together and come out of it. this partisan politics, and let’s make it work,” Markham said.

In a one-on-one interview with ABC 11, Deputy White House Press Secretary Chris Meagher highlighted some of the steps the administration is taking to combat rising energy costs.

“The president has been laser-focused on the energy sector and what we can do to reduce costs at the gas pump. Just yesterday he was in Iowa to talk about the making 15% ethanol gasoline available to Americans across the country. This is going to reduce prices by making it more accessible. This is in addition to a historic release of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that the president announced a few weeks ago One million barrels per day for the next six months as a wartime bridge over Ukraine- We hope and expect that these cost savings will also be passed on to the consumer when he goes to the gas pumps,” Meagher said.

Supply chain issues and rising gas prices are being felt in several other countries, Meagher noting ongoing conversations with world leaders to try to address the challenges.

“One of the things he did was work with the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach where a lot of our cargo comes into the country to run it 24/7, so we get goods from sub to shelf even faster, moving containers even faster through these ports After he announced the historic release of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve a few months ago, many countries followed suit step and announced their own oil releases,” Meagher said.

Meagher pointed to the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine on the oil sector, with gasoline prices rising 18.3% between February and March. Crude oil prices have been volatile for the past five weeks, reaching over $123 a barrel on March 8, before falling to $95 a barrel eight days later; Wednesday the price was $104 a barrel. Since the start of the invasion, crude oil prices have risen by about 9%, although they have risen before. Part of the cost increase is also related to people returning to the office and traveling more often. While unemployment levels have returned to pre-pandemic levels, wages have not kept up with inflation.

“Certainly (President Biden will) try to point out that he’s doing everything he can about this. I suspect he’ll try to point out the limits of what he can do about this. One of the interesting things here from a political science perspective, presidents get too much blame for the economy when things are bad, and too much credit when things are good, so the reality is, he probably gets too much credit for unemployment and too of blame for inflation,” said Dr. Steven Greene, a political science professor at NC State.

Republicans have consistently pointed to rising inflation, a point of focus during former President Donald Trump’s visit to Selma on Saturday night, where he appeared alongside a number of election officials. During his hour-long address, Trump highlighted a number of endorsements ahead of next month’s primaries.

Historically, the out-of-power party — in this case, Republicans — does well midterm, though Greene noted a lot can change by November.

“What the pandemic looks like this fall could play a big role. And if the pandemic is really in good shape, and supply chains rebound and inflation – we’re not going to go back to 2%, but maybe it’s 4% – things may be a lot less bad for Democrats than expected,” Greene said.

Thursday will mark Biden’s first visit to North Carolina since November, when he met with troops at Fort Bragg ahead of Thanksgiving. North Carolina, which has emerged as one of the most competitive states in the nation, will likely attract increased national attention as it approaches the halfway point.

“We absolutely have to expect high-profile national figures from both political parties to campaign for that Senate seat, and certainly (in) 2024 we’ll be right in the thick of it,” Greene said.

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