Inflation Continues to Climb — White House Had Warned of “Highly Elevated” Inflation Numbers

Inflation increased by 1.3 percent in June, after rising 1.0 percent in May, according to the Consumer Price Index, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The all items index increased by 9.1 percent before being seasonally adjusted.

The White House had previously warned Americans that “highly elevated” inflation numbers would be coming. The consumer price index is a crucial gauge of inflation released by the Labor Department.

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and gas prices during a White House press briefing.

“We expect the headline number, which includes gas and food, to be highly elevated mainly because gas prices were so elevated in June. Gas and food prices continue to be heavily impacted by the war in Ukraine,” she said.

The consumer price index is considered the most critical inflation gauge because it measures the percentage change in prices for household goods. Gas prices hit a record high of $5 per gallon in June. According to the White House, rising oil prices are due to the war in Ukraine. Russia is the leading oil exporter, and sanctions imposed on Russia have increased the global market fuel prices due to decreasing supply.

President Biden tried to secure an immediate increase in oil outputs and commitments to a regional security axis that would include Israel while visiting Saudi Arabia. He met with King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in an attempt to convince the kingdom to help decrease prices and pump more oil.

“The United States is invested in building a positive future of the region, in partnership with all of you — and the United States is not going anywhere,” he said.

During the meeting with the Crown Prince, Biden reportedly raised the issue of human rights, which drew criticism from the prince, also known as MbS. The president and his administration have tried to downplay the meeting after being met with criticism in the U.S. over the Saudi’s questionable actions over human rights.

During his presidential campaign, Biden said he would make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” around the globe over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents. However, he reversed course and decided U.S. interests warranted a reversal of positions, not a cut-off, as Saudi Arabia remains the world’s top oil exporter.

According to various reports, the crown prince told the president that the kingdom had acted to prevent a repeat of a mistake similar to the murder of Khashoggi and said the United States had also made mistakes, including some in Iraq.

The fist bump criticized around the world

President Biden exchanged a widely criticized fist bump with MbS but emphasized that he told the Crown Prince he helped him responsible for the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, “The President raised the issue…And the crown prince responded that this was a painful episode for Saudi Arabia and that it was a terrible mistake.”

MbS also proclaimed that the accused were brought to trial and were currently being punished with prison terms. Intelligence agencies in the U.S. believe the Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder, a claim he denies.

Jubeir said MbS had made the case to Biden that trying to impose western values on other countries by force would backfire. “It has not worked when the U.S. tried to impose values on Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, it backfired,” he quoted the crown prince as saying. “Countries have different values, and those values should be respected.”

The exchange between the president and the Crown Prince highlighted lingering tensions that have long affected relations between Riyadh and Washington over issues including the Yemen war, oil prices, and Khashoggi’s murder.

President Biden went to Saudi Arabia in hopes of reaching a deal on increasing oil production to help drive down gasoline prices amidst inflation above 40-year highs and his plummeting approval ratings.

The president left the region empty-handed but tried to put a positive spin on the situation. “I look forward to seeing what’s coming in the coming months.”

Criticism of the president and his unwillingness to tap into the vast oil supplies in California, Alaska, and Texas and the completion of the Keystone Pipeline continue to grow as American families and businesses are crippled under the weight of the increasingly bad economy.