On The Money — Biden team confronts inflation crisis

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Yet another top Biden administration official is hopeful that inflation will calm down. We’ll also look at how gas prices keep rising, President Biden’s new executive order on solar panels and Americans’ pessimism about the economy.

But first, see which former NBA player is heading to the Capitol.

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Subscribe here.

Commerce secretary: Inflation will get ‘under control’

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Sunday insisted that inflation will come down but avoided addressing the notion that she was wrong to have called it “temporary” nearly one year ago.

When asked by CNN “State of the Union” co-anchor Jake Tapper why the Biden administration appears to have been “flat footed” in addressing inflation earlier, Raimondo pointed to job growth and wage increases since President Biden took office.

“Yes, inflation’s a problem. In no way do I want to minimize that. The Fed is independent,” she said. “But, fundamentally, what we have here is a robust, economic recovery. And I think that’s in large part due to the president’s leadership.”

  • Numerous administration officials and the president himself insisted nearly one year ago that rising inflation was “temporary” and “transient” before it hit a 40-year high earlier this year with prices on consumer goods up 8.3 percent. 

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week acknowledged she was wrong in believing last year that inflation was only a “small risk.” 

  • Raimondo said that President Biden is considering lifting tariffs on some Chinese products, such as household goods and bicycles, to ease inflation.

The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld has more here.

STILL GOING

Average gasoline price jumps 25 cents in one week

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. has risen 25 cents in just one week, adding to headaches faced by consumers and the Biden administration.

On Monday, the average national price stood at around $4.87 per gallon, up from $4.62 just one week ago, according to AAA.

Over the past month, prices have risen 59 cents, up from an average of $4.28 a month ago.

  • AAA attributed the new rise to demand outpacing supply, with recent “robust” travel on Memorial Day weekend driving up demand in the U.S. 

  • The Midwest saw the largest increases over the past week, with prices rising 45 cents in Michigan, 41 cents in Illinois and 41 cents in Indiana. Overall, prices were the highest in California, averaging $6.34 per gallon. 

  • Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has kept global oil prices high, while reduced refining capacity in the U.S. has also played a role.

The Hill’s Rachel Frazin has more here.

POWER FLEX

Biden to delay new solar tariffs in bid to boost industry

President Biden signed an order on Monday that will exempt Southeast Asian nations from any new tariffs on solar panels for two years in an effort to boost the solar industry beleaguered by an ongoing Commerce Department investigation.

  • The White House said in a fact sheet that Biden would establish a “24-month bridge” for certain solar imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam by waiving tariffs “in order to ensure the U.S. has access to a sufficient supply of solar modules to meet electricity generation needs while domestic manufacturing scales up.”

  • The Commerce Department is currently investigating whether solar panel part companies in Southeast Asia are being used to circumvent U.S. tariffs on Chinese solar companies, a probe that began in March following a complaint from California-based Auxin Solar.

The background: While the investigation is not yet completed, Monday’s action will help ease concerns in the solar sector, which currently relies heavily on imports. The investigation spurred the cancellation of hundreds of solar projects in the U.S. amid concerns that it could result in retroactive tariffs up to 250 percent on imported equipment.

Morgan Chalfant explains here.

Americans deeply pessimistic on economy: poll

More than 8 in 10 Americans believe the state of the nation’s economy is poor or not so good, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll.

The poll found that just 1 percent of respondents described the U.S. economy as excellent, while 27 percent described it as poor and 55 percent as not so good.

  • Thirty-five percent of respondents said they were not satisfied at all with their present financial situation, the highest dissatisfaction level ever recorded on the question since it was first posed in 1972.

  • About 4 in 10 respondents said their financial situation has been getting worse during the last few years, while 24 percent indicated their financial situation had gotten better.

Zach has the details here.

VIRTUAL EVENT INVITE

Closing the Gaps in Health Insurance, Wednesday, June 8 at 1 p.m. ET

A record number of Americans are insured yet many remain vulnerable to significant medical expenses, including high premiums, out-of-pocket costs and prior authorization burdens. The Hill sits down with Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and more to discuss closing the gaps in health insurance. RSVP today.

Good to Know

While widespread student loan forgiveness hasn’t yet become a reality, some U.S. borrowers have already received some debt relief.

Roughly 1.3 million borrowers have seen $25 billion in student debt forgiveness since President Biden took office. Here is a breakdown of student debt cancelation already approved by the Biden administration.

Here’s what else we have our eye on:

  • Biden on Monday announced a fifth mission to bring infant formula to the U.S. from overseas, with the most recent shipment arriving from Cologne, Germany.

  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday the Republican Party has “welded itself” to the gun lobby after continued inaction to pass what he called “reasonable gun safety measures” in Congress.

  • Apple is updating privacy features and parental controls and adding edit functions for iMessage as part of its iOS16 launch, the company announced Monday at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

  • Parents are seeing an average annual cost increase of 41% for center-based child care providers, spending an average of just over $14,000 per year, according to data from a recent LendingTree report released earlier this year.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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