When it comes to politicians, most Americans are slow to reach a boiling point. But Joe Biden is testing their patience with his cold-hearted fumbling of inflation.
After first denying it was a widespread problem, then saying the surge in prices was “transitory,” the White House is now searching for a new response. The effort needs work. Lots of work.
“Reversing this trend is a top priority for me,” President Biden belatedly claimed Wednesday, after his Labor Department reported the consumer price index rose 6.2 percent in October over the same period last year, the biggest jump in 30 years.
Fuel oil prices soared 12.3 percent and are up a staggering 59 percent in a year. Meat, poultry, fish and eggs rose 1.7 percent for the month and 11.9 percent year over year.
Those are punishing numbers, and a separate report underscored that workers are falling further behind. After inflation, real wages fell 0.5 percent because, while wages are rising, the cost of nearly everything is rising faster.
But if stemming this destruction is “a top priority,” Biden has an odd way of showing it. In a head-scratcher, he again urged quick passage of his signature legislation, Build Back Better, which is still being written and fought over by his party.
It has an announced price tag of nearly $2 trillion, and a real one that is much higher, leading most economists to argue the bill would almost certainly push prices even higher, especially in the short term. On what planet is that a solution to inflation?
Worse, because the measure is stuffed with handouts, far-left climate frills, increased regulations and higher taxes, there are warnings it could also trigger an economic slow-down, resulting in stagflation, the dreaded combination of increasing prices and slowing growth. Think Jimmy Carter.
Biden hasn’t scolded the public for wallowing in malaise yet, but his late and lame attempt to show he feels your pain recalls another one-term president, George H.W. Bush. Trying to persuade voters early in his 1992 bid for re-election he was focused on lifting the nation out of the recession doldrums, Bush mangled a speech by reading the cue card his staff gave him: “Message: I care,” he insisted.
In Biden’s case, it’s not even clear everybody on his team cares. Press secretary Jen Psaki, who last month brushed off supply-chain problems as the “tragedy of the treadmill undelivered,” was off-key again Friday.
“Our view is that the rise in gas prices over the long term makes an even stronger case for doubling down our investment and focus on clean energy options,” she said in response to a question.
There you have it — rising pump prices are good news. Imagine the celebration when gas hits $10 a gallon!
Presidents get in serious trouble for all kinds of reasons, but one that’s almost guaranteed to be fatal is evidence they don’t care about something the public is very worried about.
Donald Trump, despite his accomplishments, was not able to shake the belief by many voters he initially didn’t take the pandemic seriously enough. Biden’s team recognized the weakness and portrayed their candidate as the epitome of empathy.
Now it’s Biden who looks unserious about a major public concern. Pushing the most expensive piece of legislation in history and calling it a solution to inflation is a foolish rebranding of a radical wish list he never should have supported. His failure to change course in response to new circumstances suggests he’s on autopilot.
With most polls already showing his approval ratings about 10 points underwater, the president doesn’t have room for error, as election results proved in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere.
Indeed, Biden’s response to inflation fits a pattern of refusing to heed warnings. On the fatal, chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, he rejected advice from military commanders and allies to go slower and keep some troop presence there.
He created the border crisis by rejecting advice, including from the president of Mexico, that his policies and comments were effectively inviting migrant caravans to make the trek north.
Similarly, the inflation warnings came early, with Larry Summers playing the role of Cassandra back in February when he warned about the pitfalls of Biden’s earlier $1.9 trillion bailout. The former top economic adviser to President Obama was rebuffed, but a growing chorus now believes he had it right.
Summers is still making the case, charging last week that Biden’s team has been “behind the curve” all along on inflation.
“They said it was transitory; it doesn’t look so transitory,” he said on television. “They said it was due to a few specific factors; doesn’t look to be a few specific factors. They said when September came and people went back to school, that the labor force would grow, and it didn’t happen.”
The problem might be in Biden’s head. Soon after his election, he grew infatuated with the fantasy that his social transformation plans would make him the new FDR.
But less than a year later, the string of failures and growing doubts about his ability suggest a different presidential role model: Herbert Hoover.
The GOP incumbent in 1932, Hoover was widely admired for his relief work in Europe after World War I but proved to be no match for the onslaught of the Great Depression. As the economy collapsed, voters rejected him in a landslide, handing Roosevelt victory in 42 of the 48 states.
Adams stands up to BLM
In what amounted to a practice test, Eric Adams’ aced the challenge presented by threats of riots from a Black Lives Matter leader.
Adams, who takes office Jan. 1, met with Hawk Newsome and others who knew of his plan to create a plainclothes police unit to tackle the relentless rise in gun crimes. For his efforts, the mayor-elect was threatened with “riots,” “fire”
Adams called Newsome’s response “silly” and said: “This is going to be a city where we are going to be safe. We are going to have policing that is not heavy-handed.”
The breath of fresh air he offers stands in stark contrast with the silence of the incumbent. Mayor Putz declined to comment on the threats against New York or Adams’ response.
In other words, neutral. And shameful, as usual.
Every time Andrew Cuomo proclaims his innocence and trashes the report finding he sexually harassed 11 women, I am reminded of two facts:
He voluntarily resigned.
Innocent governors do not resign.
Raise a mimosa!
From The New York Times of Nov. 3: “For Democrats, the results on the nation’s single biggest day of voting until the midterms next year raised alarms that the wave of anti-Trump energy that carried them into power has curdled into apathy in a base that is tired of protesting and is largely back at brunch.”