President Joe Biden conceded during a CNN town hall on Wednesday that certain businesses will remain “in a bind for a little while” with labor shortages, part of a major set of problems that’s unfurling as his six-month-old presidency reaches a critical juncture.
Covid cases are rising, a testament to a vaccination effort that has stalled amid waves of disinformation and skepticism. Pent-up demand has caused an uptick in prices, leading to concerns over inflation. And Biden’s much-touted bipartisan infrastructure deal remains in a state of limbo as Republicans and Democrats rush to finalize the plan.
Asked by a restauranteur about how the federal government will incentivize returns to work among industries with labor shortages, Biden said, “I think it really is a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things.”
Biden's White House
“And there is a shortage of employees, people are looking to make more money and … to bargain. And so I think your business and the tourist business is really going to be in a bind for a little while,” the President continued.
Biden’s visit to Ohio – a state that voted for former President Donald Trump in last year’s election – is part of a pattern of visiting red-leaning areas to promote popular proposals, like a child tax credit or free community college.
Upon his arrival in Cincinnati, Biden toured a union training center for electrical workers, part of his efforts to highlight the well-paying union jobs he says his economic plan will help create. He’s visited Ohio three times since taking office, tying Michigan and Pennsylvania as his most-visited states – excluding Delaware, where he spends many weekends.
The President promoted his economic recovery plans but downplayed inflation and job shortages, saying to the town hall audience at Mount St. Joseph University that “the economy is picking up significantly.”
“The vast majority of the experts, including Wall Street, are suggesting that it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to be long-term inflation that’s going to be getting out of hand. There will be near-term inflation because everything is now trying to be picked back up,” Biden asserted.
He pointed to a recent Moody’s Analytics report, which indicated the bipartisan infrastructure plan and the President’s $3.5 trillion proposal to widen the social safety net are unlikely to cause high inflation.
The federal response to the coronavirus
The Biden administration is being forced to confront a troubling rise in Covid cases that has now spread to every state in the country. Driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, nearly all new hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people. But the new surge has already forced some localities to reapply mask mandates.
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The President began the town hall event by telling moderator Don Lemon that the current pandemic is one of the unvaccinated.
“It’s real simple. We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten a vaccination. It’s that basic,” Biden said.
“If you are vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in an ICU unit, and you’re not going to die. So it’s giantly important that we all act like Americans care about our fellow Americans,” he continued.
The President said what the White House is “trying to do is use every avenue we can, public, private, government, non-government to try to get the facts out.” He pointed out recent testimonials from conservatives, including some from “one of those other networks [that’s] not a big fan of mine,” in the recent days – an apparent nudge to recent pro-vaccine comments on Fox News.