WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden started his career in politics in 1971 as a member of the New Castle, Del., County Council. Over half a century later, he touted his administration’s economic efforts to more than  two thousand county officials at Tuesday’s National Association of Counties Legislative Conference.

“I ran for the United States Senate because being in the county council was too hard,” he said.

Biden credited his administration with helping counties’ economic recovery and pushed for federal policies such as providing reliable high-speed internet, lowering drug prices and investing in climate-friendly infrastructure. 

Biden’s speech came after the release of January’s inflation number, which reported the lowest 12-month increase in price level since October 2021, according to Tuesday morning data from the Bureau of Labor statistics.

“Today’s data reinforces that we’ve made historic progress,” he said, while acknowledging that the country will still see “bumps in the road.”

Biden boasted his administration’s American Rescue Plan Act, which he said assisted counties in their recovery from the recession caused by COVID-19.

He said ARPA did a far better job than President Donald Trump’s CARE act, which gave money to 120 counties. The Biden administration allocated ARPA funds to each of America’s 3,006 counties. 

“That money helped shore up your budgets, avoid painful layoffs, put cops back in the beat, firefighters back in the job, teachers in the classroom, nurses in the emergency rooms,” Biden said. 

Biden also urged Congress to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates funds to provide internet to households across the country.

“No parent [should have] to sit in the McDonald’s parking lot, for god’s sake, so their children can connect to the internet and do their homework,” Biden said. 

The president commented publicly for the first time about Monday night’s shooting at Michigan State University, where a gunman killed three people and injured five more. He expressed his sympathy for the victims’ families and said he spoke with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about how federal authorities can assist state and local agencies.

He called for national gun control action. 

“I’m going to say something is always controversial, but there is no rationale for assault weapons and magazines that hold 50, 70 bullets,” Biden said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who spoke in the morning, warned county officials of the consequences if Congress decides not to raise the debt ceiling.

She said that the federal government would be unable to make payments to military families and seniors who receive Social Security.

“Many of your residents could ultimately lose their jobs,” Yellen said. “Household payments on mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards would rise, and American businesses would see credit markets deteriorate.”

Biden promised to cut the U.S. deficit by $2 million dollars in the White House’s 2023 proposed budget which will be released March 9.

“I believe we can be fiscally responsible without sending the country into chaos,” Biden said.