joe biden irvine

President Biden, speaking in Irvine, promised relief from inflation and soaring drug costs. (Spencer Otte/Daily Titan)

On his third and final day touring Southern California, President Joe Biden visited Irvine Valley College on Friday touting his administration’s efforts in tackling inflation and cutting the cost of prescription drugs.

Biden’s visit to the battleground county of Orange comes as midterm elections are less than one month away. Several counter-protests occurred outside the community college, ranging from demonstrators voicing their dislike of the president to those marching to spread awareness of the political unrest in Iran.

The president praised Rep. Katie Porter, Democrat of Irvine, for her cooperation with the administration and work in California's 45th Congressional District. Biden highlighted Porter’s efforts in lowering the costs of pharmaceuticals and helping his administration’s progress dealing with healthcare.

Discussing the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden said it was one of the most significant laws in helping American families pay bills at the end of the month.

“We pay more for prescription drugs than any other nation in the world, for the same exact drug by the same company,” Biden said. “There’s no reason for it but Big Pharma being a dominant force.”

Under a cloudy afternoon, Porter, who is running for reelection this year, said that Biden would continue to focus on ways to lower costs for American families, specifically for prescription drugs.

“This is a huge problem for people in Orange County, across the country. We’ve seen triple and quadruple price increases. We all want life-saving cures, but we also want to be able to afford them,” Porter said.

Susan Myer, an activist with an Oakland-based Democratic group California Alliance for Retired Americans, spoke before Biden about how the high cost of prescription drugs affected her family. Myer said her mother was cutting her medication in half to save money for bills and groceries.

Both Porter and Biden jabbed Republicans in Congress for voting against the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill enacted under Biden’s term which will lower premiums under the Affordable Care Act and require Medicare to negotiate down the price of certain prescription drugs.

“For years, there has been no check on how high or fast Big Pharma can raise drug prices. When I ran for office, I ran on this platform. It’s just not right,” Biden said.

Porter said she was thrilled to welcome President Biden during his visits across the country like he promised.

“We’re a very large county, we’re a very diverse county in every way, in terms of political views but also in terms of race and ethnicity, immigration status and so I think it’s wonderful that he’s here,” Porter said.

Though acknowledging the financial burden of prescription drugs and healthcare coverage for Americans, Biden did not address any solutions to help relieve increased inflation or rising gas prices in Southern California.

Consumer prices in Orange County are rising at a 7.8% annual rate in September – an increase from 4.6% last year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average cost of electricity for urban consumers increased over 15% in the past year.

According to the American Automobile Association, gas prices for regular fuel in California averaged at $6.09, over $2 higher than the national average of $3.90.

The president maintained an optimistic outlook on the future of American livelihoods, and said his administration is making progress to give people more “breathing room,” a phrase repeated throughout his speech.

At one point in his speech, Biden addressed a member of the crowd wearing a shirt emblazoned with a message of support for the protesters in Iran.

“I want you to know that we stand with the brave citizens and women in Iran,” Biden said.

Biden said that in his years of foreign policy experience, he was stunned by the reaction of the Iranian people following the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked massive protests in the Middle Eastern country, and he thanked those in attendance for speaking out.

“Iran has to end the violence against its own citizens simply exercising their fundamental rights,” Biden said.

Shirin Behzadi, a member of Orange County Iranian Chamber of Commerce, said she was glad President Biden spoke about local politics and the conflict in Iran.

“I hope there is more attention to Iran and its plight and that there are ways to give folks in Iran internet access,” Behzadi said.

On Wednesday, Biden arrived in Los Angeles, where he was greeted by Santa Monica mayor Sue Himmelrich. The next day, the president viewed a Metro construction site and lauded the use of federal funding to improve infrastructure nationwide, including supporting projects improving traffic congestion for LAX and the ports.

Following his Irvine appearance, the president headed back to John Wayne Airport for a flight to Portland, Oregon, concluding his West Coast campaign trip.

This story was updated on Oct. 16.

Asst. Sports Editor F20 & S21, Asst. Opinion Editor F21 & S22; Managing Editor F22 & S23

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