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Inflation Nation: Gas Hits New Record High as Cost of Living Soars to Crisis Levels

Gas prices are displayed at gas stations in Englewood, N.J., Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

WASHINGTON – With gas prices, food costs, and other basic necessities continuing to soar, President Biden is addressing the growing crisis in a White House speech on Tuesday.  

According to the American Automobile Association, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is hitting a new record high at $4.37, up 23 cents from last month. Some analysts predict an average price as high as $4.50 by summer. 

And it's not just fuel.

According to the latest Consumer Price Index report, food-at-home prices have risen 10 percent in the last 12 months, marking the largest 12-month increase since 1981. Prices for meat and eggs increased more than 13 percent over the last year, while beef rose 16 percent. What's more, the USDA predicts grocery store prices will jump another five to six percent this year. 

On Wall Street, stocks deepened their losses Monday, sending the S&P 500 to its lowest close in more than a year. 

"The President will be speaking to his plan, his continued plan, to continue the fight to address inflation in the coming months," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday, previewing Biden's Tuesday's speech. 

Biden is attempting to highlight steps he's taken to help American consumers, like releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

He blames the war in Ukraine for rising energy prices. But even some Democrats like President Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, say the administration's big spending packages are partly to blame for inflation. 

"I wouldn't say we agreed with them then and we don't agree with them now," Psaki said when asked about warnings from Summers and others. 

It all spells possible political trouble for Biden and Democrats in the upcoming congressional elections. A recent ABC News poll shows Americans trust Republicans over Democrats to handle inflation by a nearly 20-point margin. 

Biden's speech comes just one day before a key inflation report is released. One prominent analyst predicts the report will show the rate of inflation last month was below the 8.5 percentage rate seen in March – a signal that inflation might have finally peaked as prices remain stuck at painfully high levels. 

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