US inflation was 0% in July

Prices rose by 8.5% in one year

After months of touching historic highs, it looks like US inflation has finally peaked—barring any unforeseen shocks.

US consumer prices didn’t increase at all in July compared to the previous month, as lower oil prices passed through to consumer prices. That’s a marked slowdown from June, when prices rose 1.3%, and the lowest monthly inflation rate in more than two years. On the year, prices rose by 8.5% on the year, down from 9.1% in June.

The new data came in much lower than economists’ predictions for a 0.2% monthly increase. Core inflation (which strips out food and energy) was also below expectations, accelerating 0.3% versus predictions for a 0.5% increase. Economists are expecting inflation to remain tame in next month, given big drops commodity prices, which should continue to transfer to products on store shelves. But July’s data are unlikely to slow down the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. While monthly prices didn’t budge, inflation for food and housing accelerated in June, a concerning sign for Fed officials.

US Senate passes Democrats’ sweeping health care and climate bill

The Inflation Reduction Act is the  largest climate investment in US  history

The Senate on Sunday afternoon passed Democrats’ $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill, in a significant victory for President Joe Biden and his party. The final, party-line vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The package is the product of painstaking negotiations, and its final passage would give Democrats a chance to achieve major policy objectives ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

The Democrat-controlled House, which is expected to take up the legislation on Friday, August 12, must approve the bill before Biden can sign it into law. The sweeping bill — named the Inflation Reduction Act — would represent the largest climate investment in US history and make major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and extending expiring health care subsidies for three years. The legislation would reduce the deficit, be paid for through new taxes — including a 15% minimum tax on large corporations and a 1% tax on stock buybacks — and boost the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect.
It would raise over $700 billion in government revenue over 10 years and spend over $430 billion to reduce carbon emissions and extend subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and use the rest of the new revenue to reduce the deficit.

Biden plans new 20% minimum tax on billionaires

Those worth more than $1 billion are targeted

President Joe Biden is expected to propose a new minimum tax that would largely target billionaires when he unveils his 2023 budget. Called the “Billionaire Minimum Income Tax,” it would assess a 20% minimum tax rate on U.S. households worth more than $100 million. Over half the revenue could come from those worth more than $1 billion.

“This minimum tax would make sure that the wealthiest Americans no longer pay a tax rate lower than teachers and firefighters,” the document said. The proposed levy is expected to reduce the deficit by about $360 billion in the next decade, according to the document. If a wealthy household is already paying 20% on their full income, they won’t pay an additional tax under the proposal. If they pay less than 20%, they’ll owe a “top-up payment” to meet the new minimum.

Biden bans Russian oil imports to U.S.

U.S. gasoline prices will rise further

U.S. President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil and other energy imports on Tuesday in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, underscoring strong bipartisan support for a move that he acknowledged would drive up U.S. energy prices.

“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas energy,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable in U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war machine.”

Oil prices jumped on the news, with Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 for May climbing by 5.4% to $129.91 a barrel by 1345 GMT.

Biden has been working with allies in Europe, who are far more dependent on Russian oil, to isolate Russia’s energy-heavy economy and Putin. Britain announced shortly before Biden’s remarks that it would phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.

Biden administration to tap oil reserves in bid to tamp down rising gas prices

 The largest release in American history

The federal government is taking the rare step of releasing oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to address rising gas prices ahead of the holiday season, President Joe Biden said Tuesday.

As part of the move, the Department of Energy will make available 50 million barrels of oil to lower prices and address the mismatch between consumer demand and supply amid the pandemic that has driven prices to their highest levels in seven years, the White House said in a statement.

Biden called the reserve release the largest in U.S. history, and said in an address from the White House that “I will do what needs to be done to reduce the price you pay at the pump.”

US: The cost of living rises 6.2% – its highest level in 31 years

Biden says reversing rampant inflation is a ‘top priority’

President Joe Biden has vowed to make reversing the country’s rising inflation a ‘top priority,’ after the Consumer Price Index revealed inflation is at its highest level in 31 years.

The president has blamed the 6.2 percent increase in the cost of living on ‘market manipulation’ and ‘price gouging,’ despite the nation’s top economists pointing to the country’s supply-chain shortages and businesses struggling to meet the demand from COVID shutdowns as the reason for the rise in prices.

Biden said in a statement on Wednesday his $1.2 trillion Build Back Better plan will help slow the growing inflation problem and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has vowed inflation will not reach the exorbitant levels they were at during the Carter years, even as household debt increases to a record high.

Big Tech pledges billions to bolster US cybersecurity defenses

500,000 cybersecurity jobs across the U.S remain unfilled

Tech giants AppleGoogle and Microsoft have pledged billions to bolster U.S. cybersecurity following a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday. The meeting, which also included attendees from the financial and education sectors, was held following months of high-profile cyberattacks against critical infrastructure and several U.S. government agencies, along with a glaring cybersecurity skills gap; according to data from CyberSeek, there are currently almost 500,000 cybersecurity jobs across the U.S that remain unfilled.

“Most of our critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and the federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,” Biden said at the start of the meeting. “I’ve invited you all here today because you have the power, the capacity and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity.”

In order to help the U.S. in its fight against a growing number of cyberattacks, Big Tech pledged to invest billions of dollars to strengthen cybersecurity defenses and to train skilled cybersecurity workers.

Biden says wages will need to increase to solve recruitment problems

Low wages keep people from returning to work

President Biden said Wednesday that businesses struggling to hire back workers amid the coronavirus pandemic will need to offer higher wages in order to solve their recruitment problems.

Biden made the comments during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati in response to a question from an audience member who works in the restaurant business.

Biden touted his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which funded a program that provides relief to restaurants severely impacted by virus-related closures and restrictions, before suggesting that low wages could be keeping people from returning to work.

Climate change: Virtual summit of 40 world leaders

Joe Biden to reveal US emissions pledge

Joe Biden faces a key test of his commitment to climate action this week, when he sets out his core plans for tackling the climate crisis and calls on all of the world’s major economies to join him in bold action to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the next ten years. The US president has made the climate emergency one of his administration’s top priorities, and stated that clean growth must be the route for the US to rebound from the coronavirus crisis.

Biden and his climate envoy, John Kerry, will host a virtual summit of 40 world leaders to discuss the climate crisis and seek new commitments from the world’s biggest carbon emitters to fulfil the 2015 Paris agreement. At the meeting, or shortly before, the US is expected to unveil its national plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 years. If the plan – which the Paris accord refers to as a nationally determined contribution or NDC – is bold enough, and other countries follow suit, the world has a chance of meeting the Paris goals and avoiding dangerous levels of heating. If not, it will face a deepening climate crisis as carbon emissions rebound from their lull during the pandemic.