News Wrap: Biden defends his economic policies amid rising inflation

In our news wrap Tuesday, President Biden defended his economic policies in the face of the worst inflation in 40 years and said his proposal for taxing billionaires could bring down rising costs. Also, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued abortion rights are key to economic health, the rate of U.S. gun killings jumped 35 percent in 2020, and South Korea's new president takes office.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: President Biden defended his economic policies in the face of the worst inflation in the U.S. in 40 years. Instead, he blamed the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and spending from the Trump era.

    The president said his proposals, from taxing billionaires to cutting drug prices, could help.

  • President Joe Biden:

    I think our policies help, not hurt. Think about what they say.

    The vast majority of the economists think that this is going to be a real tough problem to solve, but it's not because of spending. We brought down the deficit.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, AAA reported average gas prices nationwide are $1.40 higher than a year ago.

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued today that abortion rights are key to economic health. She told senators that legalizing abortion helped women control their lives, go to school and get jobs. She said, if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, it will damage the economy and set women back decades.

    The rate of gun killings in the U.S. jumped 35 percent in 2020 the most in more than 25 years. The CDC reports total gun deaths topped more than 45,000 — that is the most on record — as the pandemic spread and firearms sales jumped. Gun homicide rates rose the most among young Black men. They were 20 times more likely to be killed than young white men.

    The head of the World Health Organization today criticized China's no-tolerance approach to COVID-19. Under that policy, much of Shanghai has been locked down for nearly six weeks.

    But in Geneva, the WHO's director-general said strict quarantines are no longer the answer.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General:

    We don't think that its sustainable, considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future, and especially when we have now a good knowledge, understanding of the virus, and when we have good tools to use.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Another top WHO official said that any benefits of a zero-COVID policy must be weighed against damage to economies and human rights.

    In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the one-time dictator, called for unity after winning the presidency. He asked to be judged by his actions and not by his family history. But hundreds of students protested outside the election commission in Manila. Other activists charged that Marcos won because he whitewashed his history.

    South Korea's new president took office today. Conservative newcomer Yoon Suk-yeol was sworn in during a ceremony in Seoul. He campaigned on a harder line on North Korea and its nuclear weapons program, but, today, he talked of conciliation.

  • Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korean President (through translator):

    If North Korea genuinely embarks on a process to complete denuclearization, we are prepared to work with the international community to present an audacious plan that will vastly strengthen North Korea's economy and improve the quality of life for its people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yoon also faces a struggle to right South Korea's economy after the pandemic.

    The British Parliament opened a new session today without Queen Elizabeth presiding, for only the third time in 70 years. Buckingham Palace blamed her mobility issues. Instead, her son, Prince Charles, heir to the throne, stood in. He read the Queen's speech, detailing the government's agenda for the coming year.

    Back in this country, a Boston city judge acquitted celebrity chef Mario Batali of indecent assault and battery. His accuser said that Batali forcibly kissed and groped her in 2017. She was one of four women who accused him of inappropriate touching. Batali apologized, but denied any criminal wrongdoing.

    On Wall Street, blue chips were down, tech stocks were up. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 85 points to close at 32160. The Nasdaq rose 114 points. That's 1 percent. The S&P 500 added nine.

    And a new record for American art. Andy Warhol's 1964 silk screen of Marilyn Monroe titled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn Monday for $195 million. Christie's auction house says that it is the highest bid for any work by an American artist ever.

    There is no word on the identity of the buyer.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper discusses his fraught relationship with former President Trump; India suffers an earlier-than-usual heat wave with major implications for agriculture; a highly contagious strain of bird flu plagues farmers across the U.S.; and much more.

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