In his victory lap at his marathon press conference last week, President Joe Biden boasted that “I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen” and “I have gotten the critical crises out of the way.” He shrugged off concerns about inflation, which he has blamed on greedy corporations and supply-chain snafus. But inflation will be the wrecking ball that could politically destroy Biden and his Democratic allies in the coming months.
Inflation has risen more than fourfold since Biden took office, jumping from 1.4% to 7%. Cynics are quipping that it’s now higher than Biden’s approval rating, but that is a cheap shot — or at least premature.
Last month, Biden characterized inflation as a “bump in the road.” But that “bump” is a hole in the gas tank for tens of millions of Americans who drive to work. Oil prices closed at their highest level in seven years the day Biden spoke.
Biden said in July, “There’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way,” but there were plenty of dire warnings from experts early last year. The president claims that inflation is a problem everywhere, but National Public Radio reported that “between 2019 and 2021, the U.S. saw one of the biggest inflation rate increases in the world, behind only Brazil and Turkey.”
Liberal outlets have responded to this debacle by painting inflation as practically a divine blessing that Biden is bestowing on Americans.
MSNBC tweeted, “Why the inflation we’re seeing now is a good thing,” while The Intercept went whole-hog on soaring milk prices: “Inflation Is Good for You.” The Washington Post editorial board offered a jaw-dropping absolution of the president: “The main reason inflation is at its highest level since 1982″ is because “people continue to spend a lot of time at home” and demand more goods.
It gets wackier. On Tuesday, NPR ran a tear-jerking piece headlined: “The Movement To Stick Inflation Blame On Biden.” After disparaging the “I did that!” stickers of Biden’s face being attached to gas pumps and other places, NPR lamented, “It’s not just vandals, pranksters, and TikTokers trying to stick inflation blame on Biden.” After admitting that real wages for workers fell 2.4% last year, NPR consoles, “It’s A Crummy Time To Be A World Leader.”
But it will take more than media pity parties to save the Biden administration.
Biden’s policymakers appear devoted to Modern Monetary Theory — the notion that politicians can spend unlimited amounts of newly created money with no adverse effect on the economy. A Washington Post headline last April captured the administration’s presumptions: “Biden’s big bet: That he can remake economy with no bad side effects” such as “less incentive to work.” But, as USA Today reported, “Many people have permanently stopped working, depressing labor force participation” by millions of people
Biden’s pro-inflation policies are dividing Americans between those who work for a living and those who vote for a living. In November, Biden boasted,“Even after accounting for inflation . . . our families have more money in their pockets than they did before the pandemic.” Putting more unearned dollars in people’s pockets will be a windfall for politicians but will worsen economic disruptions. Besides, it is scant consolation to have more dollars that purchase less and less each month.
In his press conference, Biden signaled support for the Federal Reserve tightening monetary policy, which will likely mean higher interest rates soon. Biden boasts about high stock-market prices as vindication for his economic policies (as did Donald Trump). But markets will recoil when the Fed raises rates, and that will be one more development that embittered investors blame on Biden and other Democrats.
After his vice presidential term ended, Joe Biden received a 10% cut of a shady Chinese deal that his son Hunter finagled, reports Post columnist Miranda Devine. But Americans should be far more concerned about a different 10% cut heading their way: At some point later this year, Biden’s inflation will have inflicted a 10% cut in the purchasing power of Americans’ paychecks and savings accounts. People with $50,000 in savings will effectively be hit with a hidden $5,000 federal tax.
Will the president suffer “death by a thousand price hikes,” as consumers blame Biden each time they hit the gas pump or grocery store? More handouts for government dependents will do nothing to ease the inflation pain of hardworking middle-class families. Biden’s attempt to portray himself as an innocent bystander to the destruction of value of the US dollar will be a disastrous flop.
James Bovard is the author of 10 books and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.