Liar, liar, economy on fire

James Freeman:

There’s a school of media thought that President Joe Biden’s frequent falsehoods do not represent a significant problem for the country. But today’s inflation report—and Mr. Biden’s comments in response—demonstrate the stakes when consequential issues are not addressed plainly and honestly.

“Biden, Storyteller in Chief, Spins Yarns That Often Unravel,” reads the headline on a recent New York Times report that attempts to gently place the president’s prevarications in a forgiving context. Timesfolk Michael D. Shear and Linda Qiu put it this way:

For more than four decades, Mr. Biden has embraced storytelling as a way of connecting with his audience, often emphasizing the truth of his account by adding, “Not a joke!” in the middle of a story. But Mr. Biden’s folksiness can veer into folklore, with dates that don’t quite add up and details that are exaggerated or wrong…

“He obviously has this tendency, where he’s a good and decent man who in politics has felt like he could stretch the truth up to a point just like virtually every president has done,” said Eric Alterman, the author of “Lying in State: Why Presidents Lie — and Why Trump Is Worse” and a professor at City University of New York.

“With Biden, people have decided these are not the kind of lies that matter,” Mr. Alterman added. “These are the kinds of lies that people’s grandfathers tell.”

Sounds tolerable and maybe even adorable except for the fact that this particular grandfather holds more power than anyone else on the planet and he’s costing Americans a fortune.

Even the Times today acknowledges the widespread pain, reporting:

The Consumer Price Index report for September, released Thursday, showed that painfully rapid price increases continued to trouble Americans and bedevil the Fed. Here are the takeaways:

Inflation remains relentless. The overall index climbed 8.2 percent in September versus the prior year, a slight moderation from 8.3 percent the previous month — but that was because gasoline prices had fallen, a trend that has since reversed. Practically every other detail of the report was worrying.

By some metrics, inflation is hitting new highs. Stripping out food and fuel to get a sense of underlying price trends, the so-called core index climbed by 6.6 percent, the fastest pace since 1982 and more than economists had expected.

The monthly change in prices is also worrying. It offers a snapshot of the latest trends — and those month-to-month figures looked bad. The price index picked up by 0.4 percent from August, double what economists had expected, and the core measure rose by 0.6 percent on a monthly basis.

The Times adds that rents are still rising and notes:

From pet care to dental visits, prices for a wide range of services are up a lot. That’s worrying, because it suggests that wage increases — a major cost for service providers — may be feeding into higher prices.

What is not folksy or charming at all is this morning’s statement on inflation from the president, in which he doesn’t get through even the first line without attempting to steal a rhetorical base and blame his predecessors. The president begins:

Americans are squeezed by the cost of living: that’s been true for years, and they didn’t need today’s report to tell them that. It’s a key reason I ran for President.

When Joe Biden was elected president in November of 2020 inflation was running at just 1.2% annually—seven full percentage points below the current rate.

Mr. Biden goes on to hail today’s extremely disappointing report from the Labor Department as “progress in the fight against higher prices.” He also claims:

Because of my economic plan, the United States is in a stronger position than any major economy to take on this challenge. And my policies—that Democrats delivered—directly tackles [sic] price pressures we saw in today’s report…

This challenge is largely the result of his policies. Despite warnings from leading economists from the Clinton and Obama administrations, Mr. Biden from the start of his presidency insisted on enacting massive spending increases based on his false claim that the U.S. economy was in a shambles and in need of emergency federal intervention.

It was never true. In the first quarter of 2021 when he took office, the U.S. economy was humming along at a robust 6.3% annual growth rate. This followed an explosive 35.3% surge in the third quarter of 2020 after many shutdowns had ended and then solid economic growth of 3.9% in the quarter before he took office.

The Biden fairy tale of a struggling economy was used to sell his program of juicing demand with heavy spending. Meanwhile his regulatory activism discouraged supply, especially in energy. The result: too many dollars chasing too few goods.

Of course Mr. Biden could not have done all his damage if the Federal Reserve was not also blundering—continuing its money-creation binge long after the rebound from lockdowns had begun. But at least the Fed is trying to learn from its mistakes and is now withdrawing stimulus. Mr. Biden shows no signs of contrition or understanding and now he’s pretending that his failed policy mix will cure the ailment he helped create. It will not.

Some Biden allies are even heralding a huge new cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security as a historic increase in benefits, but of course it’s just an effort to offset the historic monetary debasement authored by Mr. Biden and the Fed. This massive COLA means our government has failed in its bedrock responsibility to maintain the value of the currency.

The falsehoods employed to create the Washington-made inflation disaster are not harmless and ignoring them will only prolong the pain for American workers, savers and consumers.

As ever, America needs a free press to hold politicians to account, not to excuse their deceptions.


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