Economic data doesn’t match Biden’s laughable claims
In a small bit of good news, inflation has been trending downward. It peaked under the Biden administration at a whopping 9 percent in the summer of 2022—leaving Americans to grapple with skyrocketing prices for necessities like groceries, housing and gas. Now it sits at about 3.7 percent—up from last month—with a goal to get it back down to 2 percent.
Presented with this news, the Federal Reserve is pausing interest rate increases for now, after raising them repeatedly in an attempt to rein in inflation, but its reasoning may be more complicated. Interest rate hikes contributed to the failures of many sizable banks, continue to wreak havoc on Americans and the housing market, and could still result in a recession. Nevertheless, Biden and company have been quick to take victory laps touting their supposed successes on inflation.
In a video, the Biden administration claimed, “Here Are the Facts. Under the Biden Harris Administration Inflation Has Fallen.” That’s not all. In a recent speech, President Joe Biden recently announced, “While we have more to do, inflation is down by two-thirds. Inflation is now down close to 3%, the lowest among the world’s leading economies.” With PR spin like this, you’d expect to find Biden unfurling a mission accomplished banner in the Oval Office, but he ought to be more discerning.
As other outlets have pointed out, the Biden administration’s statements are disingenuous and misleading at best, and anyone who has shopped at a grocery store recently can attest to this. To begin with, the once-vaunted Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 appears to be a flop at curtailing inflation, and Biden apparently knows this.
He even admitted, “I wish I hadn’t called it that because it has less to do with reducing inflation than it has to do with providing alternatives that generate economic growth.” Give Biden kudos for his honesty in this moment, but he still needs to own up to the reality around his other statements about taming inflation.
For one, it’s important to understand the difference between a falling inflation rate and falling prices. Yes, the inflation rate has dropped thankfully, but prices have not. As a National Review editorial noted, “Only the rate at which inflation is increasing has slowed. Keep in mind that inflation is cumulative; much like compound interest, it just keeps adding up. After a large increase in the prior year, it is not particularly impressive that the current year increase will be lower, but that lower number comes on top of — or in addition to — the prior year’s number.” Put simply, inflation from last year is baked into prices already and will almost certainly remain that way.
The cumulative increase in prices since Biden took office is astounding. In aggregate, prices have soared over 16 percent; grocery prices have surged by around 20 percent; electricity by 26 percent; used cars by 35 percent; energy by 38 percent; and airline fares by 39 percent. The inflation rate may have inched downward, but Americans are still feeling economic pain.
Despite this troubling data, Biden administration apologists have been delivering some laughable hot takes in defense of the president. Economist Paul Krugman tweeted, “In the past I’ve focused on a measure that excludes lagging shelter and used cars as well as food and energy. Just to note that it adds to the evidence that inflation has been largely defeated.” In other words, if you don’t factor in the costs of vital necessities, then inflation isn’t so bad.
At least we have lower inflation than other leading countries, right? When Biden made that statement, it was at least partially true. Among the seven foremost economies—members of G7—the U.S. boasted the lowest rate, although Japan’s rate was unavailable at the time. However, we didn’t hold the lowest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Denmark, Greece, Portugal, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland all had lower rates than the United States.
Overall, I suppose our standing compared to many other countries is largely welcome news, but it offers little consolation to Americans who struggle to pay their electric bills and buy groceries for their families. In the end, Biden should spend less time taking credit for a victory that hasn’t happened and focus on actually addressing the problem at hand.