Biden isn’t fooling anyone — inflation is his fault and he has no solution to fix itIf you like your inflation, you can keep your inflation.
Okay, Joe Biden didn’t say that. But he would have if he were being honest.
The president set himself an easy task Tuesday — to show a dispirited public he cares about their painful straits. As he put it, “I want every American to know that I’m taking inflation very seriously and it’s my top domestic priority.”
Just not seriously enough to bring a single new idea to the table. Instead he fell back on tired tropes about how none of the historic increase in prices is his fault.
With Biden, the buck always stops somewhere else.
The two straw men he trotted out were familiar — the pandemic and the Putin Price Hike. The latter coined phrase is as ridiculous as President Gerald Ford’s WIN gambit, for Whip Inflation Now, and will no doubt be just as effective economically and politically.
Asked by a reporter after his address whether he accepted any responsibility for the crisis, Biden said no, adding: “I think our policies help, not hurt.”
Saying so doesn’t make it true.
Nor was it credible for him to claim, again, that there is rampant price gouging by oil and lumber companies and beef distributors.
As usual, his performance was marred by a halting, stumbling delivery as if he were reading his speech for the first time. An even bigger problem is that his argument is no match for the reality Americans see and feel.
Consider these numbers: CNN reports 81% of the public thinks the government is not doing enough to combat inflation.
Fox reports that just 36% approve of Biden’s handling of the economy.
And all that was before the latest record hike in gasoline prices. The national average price of regular unleaded is now $4.37 a gallon, up from $4.20 last week and $2.97 a year ago.
Against that backdrop, the White House had to know there was no chance the president’s “I care” appearance would make much of a difference, raising the question of why he bothered. One theory is that the inflation data that comes out Wednesday will be more bad news and Biden’s team saw an advantage in getting ahead of it by having him tell voters he really, really feels their pain.
That’s not much of a reason, but the decision to go ahead shows how the administration has hit a wall of its own making. Even with the tanking stock market and growing belief that the Federal Reserve’s planned interest rate hikes will throw the economy into a recession, Biden seems unable to change course and adopt policies that could help tame inflation and earn him and his party a second look from voters.
For example, despite the fact that many economists believe the massive government spending during the height of the COVID war, including $2 trillion spent last year, was a major cause of the surge in consumer demand and prices, Biden continues to push for more spending that would add to inflation pressures.
Then there’s the issue of energy supplies and the resulting price of oil being stuck around $100 a barrel. If the president were to flip-flop and make a serious push to increase production, he would face a revolt within his own party.
Many Democrats actually wouldn’t mind if gas prices hit $10 a gallon because, they believe, that would hasten the move away from fossil fuels. Such is their devotion to the devil in their Green New Deal that the problems people face here and now don’t matter to them.