We support our Publishers and Content Creators. You can view this story on their website by CLICKING HERE.
They’re still sticking with this dopey talking point, huh?
President Biden: “Today’s inflation report confirms what Americans already know. Putin’s price hike is hitting American hard.” pic.twitter.com/7sdVHsTRZe
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 10, 2022
Putin’s war is contributing to inflation. The western ban on Russian oil imports has cut the supply of gas and Black Sea mines are preventing cargo ships from exporting Ukrainian grain, to the extent Russia isn’t plundering the available inventory.
But all sentient beings know that inflation was on its way up long before Putin made his move on Kiev in late February. Inflation fears were the key reason Joe Manchin tanked the Build Back Better bill last fall, months before Russia’s invasion. This isn’t all Putin’s fault:
This is a stunning inflation stat from NBC’s @charlieherman
According to Moody’s Analytics – compared to a year ago – American households are paying $460 more per month to buy the same amount of goods and services.
— Doug Adams (@DougNBC) June 10, 2022
This isn’t all Putin’s fault either:
CHART: Eggs up 32.2%; Whole milk up 16.9%; Bacon up 15.3%; Chicken up 17.4% Lettuce up 11.4% — there is no escaping inflation no amount of spin will shield Biden. https://t.co/d9EaaVx7ga pic.twitter.com/buSgycwGEP
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) June 10, 2022
And certainly this isn’t all his fault:
Over the last year real wages are falling at the fastest pace they have in forty years (excluding pandemic composition shifts last year).
Real average hourly earnings in May were -0.6% below February 2020 (and likely further below adjusting for composition). pic.twitter.com/eAtMDttPUw
— Jason Furman (@jasonfurman) June 10, 2022
Even the bit of good news shared in the clip by Biden comes with caveats. Core inflation is still very high, it’s just fallen ever so slightly recently:
Core inflation has now fallen for two straight months pic.twitter.com/5R7pcjHtUS
— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) June 10, 2022
The White House has a problem. Their problem is that inflation is not just a diabolical political problem, it’s also a problem that’s unusually hard to spin. Typically the ruling party will grasp for ways to blame it on the prior administration, but inflation didn’t begin to bite until the fall of Biden’s first year. There are no silver-bullet legislative solutions either. Apart from lifting tariffs (which would piss off organized labor), the White House is essentially at the mercy of the Fed and the global supply chain. For the president, it’s a double whammy — he gets the blame for the crisis *and* looks ineffectual in flailing at ways to ease it.
The Times aptly described inflation as the “problem from hell” on Wednesday in a story about the White House’s struggle to manage it. If “Putin price hike” is still the best spin they’ve got, they’re in grave trouble.
When it became clear that rising costs were lasting, administration officials began to diverge internally on how to frame that phenomenon. While it was clear that much of the upward pressure on prices came from supply chain shortages exacerbated by continued waves of the coronavirus, some of it also tied back to strong consumer demand. That big spending had been enabled, in part, by the government’s stimulus packages, including direct checks to households, expanded unemployment insurance and other benefits.
Some economists in the White House have begun to emphasize that inflation was a trade-off: To the extent that Mr. Biden’s stimulus spending spurred more inflation, it also aided economic growth and a faster recovery…
Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, acknowledged in an interview last week that there were some disagreements among White House economic officials when it came to how to talk about and respond to inflation, but he portrayed that as a positive — and as something that is not leading to any kind of dysfunction.
This sums up the evolution in messaging:
Inflation is permanently defeated
ARP will not worsen inflation, idiot
There is no inflation
July 4th cookout down 16c
Just a “high class problem”
Blame “Big Meat”
Putin’s Price Hike
Worst is over
(Today) Oh shit.
— Brian Riedl 🧀 🇺🇦 (@Brian_Riedl) June 10, 2022
As for Deese himself, he’s sticking with … “Putin price hike.”
Top Biden economic advisor Brian Deese on who’s to blame for historic inflation and record gas prices: “Putin” pic.twitter.com/blHYnZbLvn
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 10, 2022
“Whatever Washington has done to try to fix the cost of living crisis in America, it isn’t working,” said one economic researcher this morning, eyeballing the new inflation report. “This isn’t just Russia and Ukraine anymore.”
The truly crazy part is that it could have been worse. If not for Joe Manchin slamming the brakes on the Biden agenda, another ocean of cash would be spilling into the economy, driving demand higher. Michael Brendan Dougherty salutes the Democrats’ maverick on behalf of a grateful America:
Even the scaled-down version of Build Back Better was causing economic commentators to worry about its effect on inflation. “The House bill as currently drafted will add ~$200 billion to next year’s deficit alone. I don’t see how we can do that when inflation is 2-3x our target,” said Ben Ritz, the director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Funding America’s Future. The head of Bank of America’s global economics research predicted, “It will make the labor market even hotter and create even more price pressure.”
Claims that Build Back Better had counterinflationary measures, such as increased taxes, tend to ignore the fact that many of these “pay-fors” were never meant to be implemented, only to act as budgeting smoke and mirrors to give wavering politicians such as Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema cover.
You can imagine progressives reading that and thinking that the party’s going to get obliterated this fall anyway, even with Manchin having mitigated the inflation problem somewhat. In which case, if they were destined to take their medicine at the polls either way, they should have passed BBB when they had the chance. Who cares if working-class families can’t afford groceries anymore?
By the way, has it occurred to Biden yet that the “Putin price hike” spin may be inadvertently convincing Americans that his support for Ukraine is the root of all our problems? If only we cut off the tap of weapons to Kiev and started buying Russian oil again, people might reason, steak would be less than 30 bucks per pound and Americans could fill up their cars. None of that is true, but in his haste to pass the buck for the country’s inflationary misery, he’s going to end up talking swing voters into becoming isolationists. Sorry, Zelensky.