Americans are growing increasingly frustrated with the state of the country amid economic uncertainty, inflation at a 40-year high and steep gas prices, with a new poll showing 60 percent agree that the state of the nation is "uneasy."
A CBS/YouGov poll released on Sunday also found that 69 percent see the economy as "bad," up from 46 percent in the spring. Nearly all Democrats and Republicans surveyed indicated they wanted candidates to focus on inflation as a top election issue as Americans continue to sour on the direction of the country.
Inflation hit a 40-year high when the consumer price index, a measure of the average price of goods and services in the country, climbed to 8.5 percent in March and remained near that level in April. And gas prices have now reached a record high with an average national price of $4.59 for a gallon of gas, according to AAA.
On Sunday, officials and lawmakers weighed in on the matter, with some blaming the Biden administration for being too slow to respond to a potential economic crisis.
When asked if the country was at risk for a recession, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese wouldn't rule it out, telling CNN's Dana Bash that "there are always risks" of falling into a recession, but insisted that the U.S. was in a "transition" period.
"Our economy is in a transition from what has been the strongest recovery in modern American history to what can be a period of more stable and resilient growth that works better for families," Deese said. "There's no doubt we face serious global challenges right now, inflation first and foremost among them, and it's hitting families hard.
"But there's also no doubt that the United States is in a better position than any other major country around the world to address inflation without giving up all the economic gains that we've had and that's because of the strength of our recovery," he said.
Further signs of economic instability came last week when major indexes in the stock market dove. The S&P 500, an index comprising of the top companies in the nation, dipped into bear market territory on Friday following a seven-week decline.
To combat rising inflation, the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by half a percentage point earlier this month, the largest increase since 2000.
Republicans are seizing on inflation as a key campaign issue they can use to mobilize voters ahead of the midterms. But they offered few details on just how they would combat the problem should they make expected gains in Congress after November.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told CBS "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan that he expected the Biden administration's dealings with the economy and a host of the other issues would bolster conservative turnout.
"The president is slow to react - whether it's the border, whether it's inflation, whether it's gas prices - even Ukraine," Scott said. "The election this fall is going to be about inflation, it's going to be about the effectiveness of the Biden administration, and I think it will bode well for Republicans."
Citing the CBS poll that also showed Republicans don't appear to have much of an advantage on the issue of inflation either, Brennan asked Scott what he would advise his fellow GOP members.
"Well, I think it's important that, you know, we talk about what we're going to do," Scott said. "We tell people what we're going to do to bring down inflation. We're going to balance the budget. We're going to start watching the dollars very closely. We're going to watch our spending. We are going to, you know, expect the Federal Reserve to reduce their balance sheet. So, I think we have to talk about the things that we're going to do to make it better for people."
On "Fox News Sunday," Deese championed the "strongest job market in modern history" while citing low unemployment rates and the chipping away from the federal deficit but the White House has struggled to explain how that relates to the economic woes many Americans are feeling.
"These prices create real hardship and they also create uncertainty. We understand that. And that's precisely what the president has made very clear that combating inflation is his top economic priority," Deese told guest host Martha MacCallum. "And what people should know is that we can do this. We know how to do this."
Still, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel predicted the GOP party would see favorable results come Election Day because of the cascading series of issues facing the Biden administration.
"We have rising inflation. We have a baby formula crisis. We have a border that's surging. We have a drug crisis. We have what's happening in Ukraine. We have gas prices going through the roof," she said.
"When the dust settles, Republicans are going to unite, including President [Donald] Trump, to make sure that we win back the House and the Senate," McDaniel said.
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