To highlight economic growth, Biden will buy gifts

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged last week to talk more with everyday Americans and took the first step Tuesday afternoon by visiting a gift shop and ice cream shop in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Biden went shopping at Honey Made, a boutique that opened last year amid the pandemic. The president browsed 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 buy that one too,” he said.

The excursion came as the administration tries to shine a light on the healthiest parts of the economy, at a time when many Americans worry about inflation at a nearly 40-year high. Rising prices overshadowed net gains under Biden’s leadership, with the jobless rate improving sharply to 3.9% and the economy poised for the strongest growth since 1984.

The White House released 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 has helped keep cash-strapped businesses in business and boosted consumer demand. But strong demand and struggling supply chains have driven prices higher, creating what is now a political challenge for a president who has seen his approval slip as the country struggles to recover from the pandemic.

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The president followed up his stay at Honey Made by greeting nearby members of the US Marine Corps, then stopping at Jeni’s Ice Cream for several scoops in a waffle scone.

After quitting on Tuesday, Biden will meet with the heads of General Motors, Ford, Microsoft, Salesforce and Etsy, among other CEOs, on Wednesday to discuss the benefits of his stalled economic agenda in the Senate, according to a White House official. The official insisted on anonymity to preview the plans. These leaders support the program even though Biden has proposed corporate tax increases.

Biden plans to travel to Pittsburgh on Friday to highlight the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal he signed last year.

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