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President Biden heads to Orange County to tout fiscal policies

For President Joe Biden in Southern California, politics is fiscal.

With pivotal midterm elections looming, the president is headed to Irvine Valley College on Friday afternoon to tout the Inflation Reduction Act, an accomplishment for Democrats, and an executive order the White House announced earlier Friday meant to increase opportunities to lower prescription drug costs.

The Orange County stop bookends a three-day tour of the Southland, where Biden has promoted the capping of monthly insulin prices for Medicare recipients and announced Social Security benefits will go up an average of $140 per month.

Still, Biden acknowledged the impact inflation has had across the country.

“Americans are squeezed by the cost of living,” Biden said in Los Angeles. “It’s been true for years, and folks don’t need a report to tell them they’re being squeezed.”

The latest Consumer Price Index didn’t show much relief in Southern California. In Los Angeles and Orange counties, consumer prices are rising at a 7.8% annual rate versus 4.6% a year ago.

Grocery store prices are up 13% in a year versus 5.4% one year ago in Los Angeles and Orange counties. And tenants paid 5.3% more this year compared to 1.1% a year ago.

Gas prices in Orange County for regular fuel averaged $6.09 – higher than the national average of $3.90, according to the American Automobile Association.

And that’s the messaging Republicans have used ahead of Biden’s visit. Hallie Balch, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, alleged local Democratic representatives are “distancing themselves” from the president “since his administration has done nothing but make inflation worse and fail on basic issues like safety and security.”

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, however, will appear with Biden at Irvine Valley College.

Thursday evening, the president attended a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. He is expected to travel to Portland, Oregon, later Friday.

Signed into law earlier this year, the Inflation Reduction Act requires that Medicare begin bargaining over the price of certain drugs beginning next year. It’s a controversial provision, one that has the pharmaceutical industry considering legal actions to block the implementation. Republicans have proposed legislation that would strip Medicare’s negotiation ability as well.

But the law also makes vaccines free and limits out-of-pocket drug expenses at $2,000 beginning in 2025.

This story will be updated throughout the day with details of Biden’s visit to Orange County. Check back later.

Staff writer Steve Scauzillo and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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