By Naveen Athrappully
U.S. citizens are more interested in the Biden administration tackling inflation than focusing on helping Ukraine in its war against Russia, a recent poll by YouGov shows.
When asked about issues that ought to be President Joe Biden’s top priority, 38 percent of respondents said lowering or eliminating inflation, according to the results of the survey, which was conducted from June 23 to June 29 (pdf). The second issue was lowering the cost of and improving access to health care with 15 percent, followed by 12 percent support for solving the energy crisis, 8 percent for reducing divisiveness in the country, 8 percent for ensuring Russia’s defeat in Ukraine, and 6 percent for reducing the national debt.
On Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine, 44 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion, while only 36 percent held a favorable view. Twenty percent were undecided on the matter.
Regarding the issue of the U.S. military potentially becoming directly involved in the ongoing Russia–Ukraine war, 27 percent said they “strongly oppose” it, 21 percent “neither support nor oppose” the action, and 19 percent “somewhat oppose” such military involvement.
The survey comes as the United States has spent almost $60 billion on the Ukraine conflict. The war has created uncertainty, pushing up the prices of gas, oil, food, and other commodities.
At a June 30 press conference, a reporter asked Biden how long it would be fair to expect U.S. drivers to pay higher gas prices.
“As long as it takes so Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine. This is a critical, critical position for the world,” he said.
The 12-month Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflation, was recorded at 83.6 percent in May. Food prices were up by 10.1 percent and energy prices jumped by 34.6 percent.
“I think we now understand better how little we understand about inflation,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at the European Central Bank’s annual policy forum in Sintra, Portugal, on June 29. “This was unpredicted.”
The consequences of out-of-control inflation are being reflected in consumer and business data. The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index, a measure of consumer spending, rose by only 0.2 percent in May, down from a 0.6 percent jump in April. Adjusted for inflation, consumer spending fell by 0.4 percent in May, the first decline in five months.
Although there was a $76.2 billion increase in spending on services, it was offset by a $43.5 billion decrease in spending on goods.
A recent report by small business network Alignable shows that 35 percent of U.S. small business owners weren’t in a position to pay their rent in full or on time in June.
“Most small business owners attribute this worsening situation to record-breaking inflation, which includes escalating gas, labor, and supply costs,” the report reads. “Simply put, there’s less money available to pay the rent.”