The Inflation Vote

The Biden administration is having a hard time defending its statements in respect of the value of the dollar — just as a presidential debate fetches up on the schedule.

AP/Susan Walsh
The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, July 7, 2022. AP/Susan Walsh

So, you know — and — and thank you for the question, because I know that this — we got a lot of incoming on this yesterday and look, I — what the President was — the point that he was making — uh — is that the factors that caused inflation was in place when he walked in — into the administration — when he took office. Let’s — as you know, the pandemic caused inflation around the world to be — uh — uh — by disrupting our economy and breaking our supply chains.

That’s the word salad with which the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, began her response when asked why President Biden has been saying that when he came into office inflation was running at 9 percent. The question was asked by Edward Lawrence of Fox Business News. “Is the President misleading Americans on that?” Mr. Lawrence asked, “Or does it — just not realize that inflation was 1.4 percent when he came into office?”

We appreciate Ms. Jean-Pierre’s predicament. We’d dismiss the exchange as so much press room chatter. It comes, though, as President Biden has agreed to debate President Trump, in the first televised presidential campaign debate between two presidents. It strikes those of us here in the bleachers that we could be in for an illuminating confrontation in respect of how the Democratic and Republicans think about what voters call the top issue

The economy Mr. Biden “inherited” from Mr. Trump featured inflation running at 1.4 percent on an annual basis. It wasn’t, contrary to the White House’s claim, until some 17 months later, in June 2022, that inflation hit 9 percent. In that first year and a half, the  Biden Administration threw gasoline on the fire, shelling out $814 billion in Covid stimulus checks and passed a $1.9 trillion Covid “relief” bill for an already recovering economy. 

Mr. Biden’s $1.7 trillion omnibus bill in 2023, another example of federal overspending, only served to fuel the inflationary wave, despite the growing awareness that all the public expenditure — funded by exploding federal debt, was a precipitating factor. All the while, Mr. Biden and his administration — joined by the Fed — were attempting to wave away the spiraling price increases as  “transitory.” 

It’s no wonder a credibility gap has developed between Mr. Biden and voters. Even as inflation has ebbed from its peak, consumers are frustrated, to put it mildly, because of the cumulative impact of the inflationary wave so far. While the president crows about “progress” in the war against inflation, Americans are astonished by how much more expensive the everyday staples have become. Far from accepting the criticism, Mr. Biden seeks to censor the complaints.

As these inflation-weary voters approach the polls, the president’s attempt to blame President Trump for the problems appears to be escalating — without letting little things like facts get in the way. This isn’t the first time Mr. Biden has mis-cited numbers from Mr. Trump’s presidency. Back in 2022, Mr. Biden touted reducing gas prices from the $5 a gallon price Mr. Trump left the economy, though the real number was a much lower $2.39 a gallon. 

Ms. Jean-Pierre’s remarks echo Mr. Biden’s own comments on Tuesday claiming that inflation “was at 9% when I came in and it’s now down to about 3%.” The confusion — or misstatements — suggest a White House that is, at the least, ill-prepared to defend the administration’s economic record at a time when the presidential race is heating up and inflation is one of Mr. Biden’s leading electoral liabilities.

The New York Sun

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