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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden pledged last week to chat more with everyday Americans and took an initial step Tuesday afternoon by visiting a gift shop and ice cream store in Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Biden went shopping at Honey Made, a boutique that opened up last year amid the pandemic. The president perused the store, choosing a hoodie for his grandson and a necklace for his wife, Jill. He then picked up a mug with a picture of Vice President Kamala Harris on it.
“I'll get this one, too,” he said.
The excursion occurred as the administration is trying to spotlight the healthier parts of the economy, at a time when many Americans are fretting over inflation at a nearly 40-year high. Higher prices have overshadowed the clear gains under Biden's watch as the unemployment rate has improved sharply to 3.9% and the economy is poised for the strongest growth since 1984.
The White House issued a fact sheet as Biden shopped that said the administration had provided $400 billion in aid to more than 6 million small businesses. Biden opened his presidency by securing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which helped to keep cash-strapped companies in business and boosted consumer demand. But strong demand and troubled supply chains led to higher prices, creating what is now a political challenge for a president who has seen his approval slip as the country has struggled to recover from the pandemic.
The president followed his time at Honey Made by greeting nearby members of the U.S. Marine Corps and then stopping at Jeni's Ice Cream for several scoops in a waffle scone.
After stepping out Tuesday, Biden will meet Wednesday with the heads of General Motors, Ford, Microsoft, Salesforce and Etsy, among other CEOs, to discuss the benefits of his economic agenda that has stalled in the Senate, according to a White House official. The official insisted on anonymity to preview the plans. These executives support the agenda even though Biden has proposed corporate tax increases.
Biden plans to visit Pittsburgh on Friday to highlight the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that he signed into law last year.