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Biden says Americans are ‘down’ but dismisses claims that Covid relief contributed to inflation

“People are really, really down,” Biden said in the interview, which the news service said lasted 30 minutes.

“They’re really down,” Biden said. “The need for mental health in America, it has skyrocketed, because people have seen everything upset. Everything they’ve counted on, upset. But most of it’s the consequence of what’s happened, what happened as a consequence of the Covid crisis.”

Well into his second year in office, Biden has struggled to improve his political standing amid rising prices for gas, food and other goods. Despite his administration’s efforts to contain the pandemic, the virus has continued to spread and disrupt everyday life.

The Biden administration has attempted to address the mental health crisis in different ways, including with Biden announcing that mental health would be part of his bipartisan “unity agenda” during his State of the Union address earlier this year.

And the mental health issue has also come into sharper focus after a recent deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. A bipartisan piece of gun safety legislation currently being negotiated in Congress following the shooting includes “major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.”
Biden has previously acknowledged the pandemic’s impact on Americans’ broader outlook about the future, saying during a CNN town hall last fall, “There’s a lot of people who are just down. They’re not sure how to get back in the game. They’re not sure whether they want to get back in the game.”

Inflation has become a potent political liability for the President, who in the interview dismissed arguments that his large Covid relief package that was signed into law early in his presidency may have contributed to the problem. He told the AP that theory was “bizarre.”

Instead, Biden and the White House have largely blamed the broad economic impacts of the pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine for continued inflation woes.

But government spending is known to boost inflation and the law has been cited by critics as one of many factors contributing to the current state of the economy.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier this month that Biden’s hallmark $1.9 trillion plan, which included stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits and various other forms of relief, contributed only modestly to inflation.

She downplayed the inflationary impact of the stimulus package, pointing instead to the economy’s “miraculously rapid recovery.”

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