President Biden speaks at the White House on May 4. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg News)
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President Biden said Wednesday that his administration will address ongoing concerns about inflation by paying down the national debt for the first time in six years — a sharp contrast from his predecessor, whose economic policies increased the country’s debts annually.

“Bringing down the deficit is one way to ease inflationary pressures in an economy where a consequence of a war and gas prices and oil, food and it all — it’s just a different world right this moment because of Ukraine and Russia,” he said Wednesday.

Video: Biden touts deficit reduction amid high inflation

The president announced his plans during a speech in which he championed his administration’s economic accomplishments. It came amid reports that inflation is the biggest issue affecting Americans right now.

The overwhelming majority of Americans — 94 percent — are concerned or upset about inflation, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Biden hoped to assuage those concerns Wednesday by nothing that the budget deficit fell by more than $350 billion during his first year, something the president credits in part to the American Rescue Plan. The Treasury Department updated estimates this week that projected the U.S. deficit falling by more $1.5 trillion this year, compared with a projected $1.3 trillion drop in Biden’s budget.

“Looking ahead, I have a plan to reduce the deficit even more, which will help reduce inflationary pressures and lower everyone’s costs for families,” Biden said.

“There is no reason why a billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a teacher or a firefighter,” he added. “That’s in sharp contrast to what today’s Republican Party is offering.”

With inflation at a 40-year high, Republicans have frequently attacked Biden and Democrats on the economy and have indicated that it is one of the issues that they believe will move voters to back more Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), in the wake of a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion signaling the possible end of abortion rights in many states, told reporters that inflation will be the primary concern of voters in November.

“Inflation is the number one driving factor,” the antiabortion lawmaker said. “I believe in my state right now it’s hurting everybody. … Follow the money.”

But Biden noted that the money points to Americans experiencing economic relief under his leadership in ways that they did not under the Trump administration. Biden noted that tax cuts on high-income earners and corporations championed by President Donald Trump added more than $1 trillion to the debt, according to some estimates.

“For all the talk the Republicans make about deficits, it didn’t happen a single quarter under my predecessor, not once,” Biden said. “The bottom line is the deficit went up every year under my predecessor, before the pandemic and during the pandemic, and it’s gone down both years since I have been here. Period. … There are the facts.”

The expansion of the annual deficit to about $3 trillion was in part the result of the pandemic’s impact on the economy, causing the national debt to rise above $30 trillion for the first time this year.