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Biden touts price drops, but voters still feel the pinch

By Jake Beardslee · November 28, 2023

In brief…

  • President Biden highlighted falling prices on some items, but Republicans said most prices still exceed pre-pandemic levels
  • Although inflation has slowed from 40-year highs, most prices remain elevated, presenting a messaging challenge for Biden
  • The average Thanksgiving dinner cost less than last year's record but more than before the pandemic
  • Gas prices have fallen from peaks above $5 but remain higher than when Biden took office
  • Republicans blame inflation on Biden’s spending, contrary to White House claims on supply chains and Ukraine war
While touting declines in some prices, President Biden faces criticism that most costs stay high despite inflation’s retreat from 40-year highs, complicating efforts to sell economic gains.  David Lienemann/Wikimedia

On Monday, President Joe Biden highlighted his administration’s success in reducing prices for holiday staples like turkey and airplane tickets over the past year. “Together we made progress,” he said. “You know from turkey to air travel to a tank of gas costs went down and went down.”

While the President cited evidence of declines, including a 4.5% drop in the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 since last year, Republicans accused him of ignoring the bigger picture. “No matter how the White House spins it, Joe Biden’s out-of-control spending & mismanagement of our nation’s finances have increases prices by more than 17%,” said Rep. Ben Cline on X.

The partisan spat illustrates Biden’s challenge selling economic gains when many families still feel a pinch.

Though inflation slowed from a 40-year high of 9.1% to 7.7%, and some prices fell, most remain elevated since pre-pandemic days. The average Thanksgiving dinner still cost $61.17 this year, up from $53.31 in 2021.

Likewise for gas, despite dropping from peaks above $5 per gallon, the current national average of $3.25 per gallon still exceeds the $3.55 average when Biden took office. Prices are “still too high for too many things” and “times are still too tough for too many families,” the President conceded.

Republicans blamed stimulus spending for fueling inflation, contrary to White House claims that supply chain problems and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine primarily drove price hikes.

“Last year, Joe Biden’s broken policy agenda generated the highest inflation in 40 years. Americans have faced 33 straight months of rising prices, with food costs increasing every month since Biden took office,” said Sen. Markwayne Mullin, The Daily Mail reported.

The partisan debate underscores a messaging challenge for Democrats. However much prices fall, voters feeling economic strain seem unlikely to credit the administration’s policies.