WASHINGTON (NewsNation now) – President Joe Biden delivered his first press conference of 2022 on Wednesday, outlining his plans to combat rising costs, manage COVID-19 fears and respond to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I didn’t promise too much” what could be accomplished in the first year of his administration, Biden said at the press conference. “You must recognize that we have made enormous progress.”
Biden hosted the press conference on the heels of a poll conducted by NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ out of 1,000 registered voters found that nearly 55% of those polled disapprove of the president’s handling of the pandemic.
A separate Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that the president’s approval rating had fallen to 33%, his lowest rating yet.
Throughout the afternoon, Biden answered questions from the media, addressing topics including jobs, COVID in schools and his Build Back Better package.
Here are the key takeaways from Wednesday’s briefing:
FIGHT AGAINST INFLATION
Biden has called on the Federal Reserve to do more to fight inflation by backing down from its monetary stimulus for the US economy.
Inflation hit a nearly 40-year high, hampering the Biden administration and plummeting public support even as economic growth and hiring increased.
“Given the strength of our economy and the pace of recent price increases, it is important to recalibrate the support that is now needed,” the president said in his opening remarks.
Biden also said he has a three-part plan to fight inflation, including:
- Troubleshoot supply chain issues
- Adopt the Build Back Better plan to reduce costs for families, including childcare
- Create competition, in particular by signing a decree to fight against unfair competition
Biden admitted on Wednesday that the United States should have done more sooner to boost COVID-19 testing as he pledged not to return to lockdowns and said the omicron variant was not a cause of panic.
“Should we have done more tests sooner? Yes, but we are doing more now,” Biden told reporters at the White House. He said there are currently 20,000 sites where people can be tested for free.
Biden also said “we’re not going back to closing schools.”
Allison Harris of NewsNation asked the president what he would say to officials at schools who chose not to have in-person classes because of the omicron variant.
Biden responded by saying “very few schools are closing.” He said over 95% were open. NewsNation has not confirmed this claim.
As for getting back to normal, Biden said we’re not there yet.
“Some people may call what’s happening now the new normal, I call it work that’s not done yet,” Biden said.
BREAK BUILD BETTER
Biden confirmed Wednesday that he would break his landmark $1.7 trillion Build Back Better legislation to win the support of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (DW. Va.).
“I’m confident we can get pieces, big pieces of Build Back Better into law,” Biden said.
Biden said he feels confident about funding for energy and the environment. He also said he believed Manchin supported early childhood education funding.
There are two big things the president says he fears will pass: the child tax credit and funding to help cover the cost of community college.
“I think we can split the pack, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later,” Biden said at the press conference.
RESPONSE TO RUSSIA
Biden predicted Russian President Vladimir Putin would enter Ukraine and said Russia would pay a “heavy price” for a full-scale invasion, with its businesses possibly losing access to the US dollar.
“I guess he will move in,” Biden said at a press conference. “He has to do something.”
Biden has said he thinks Putin doesn’t want all-out war in Ukraine. He suggested he would limit Russia’s access to the international banking system if it continued to invade Ukraine.
Biden said a summit with Putin was a possibility.
You can watch the full press conference below.