President Joe Biden has a numbers problem. No matter how aggressively the White House attempts to deflect blame when it comes to the current state of the policy landscape, the numbers refuse to bend to their will.
To put it another way, one set of numbers keeps going up: consumer prices, the cost of a gallon of fuel, and so many more measures of our nation’s economic health. Unsurprisingly, another set of numbers keeps going down: the stock market and Biden’s approval ratings.
No wonder Democrats on Capitol Hill and in state capitols across the country are sweating bullets headed into the midterms.
The latest Consumer Price Index showed an increase of 8.3%. That is a stunning number — one of the highest ever recorded. But in a classic case of whistling past the graveyard, some headlines suggested that the data was somehow encouraging, with inflation “slowing” from the previous month’s high of 8.5%.
A slowing of 0.2% from the highest number recorded in 40 years isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Biden’s economic agenda.
Sensing the danger to Democrats’ chances in the midterms, the White House went into damage control mode immediately after the CPI numbers were released. The administration announced a plan to tackle inflation by making energy more affordable, reducing the cost of prescription drugs and health care, supporting farmers, lowering childcare costs and more.
There’s a lot of broad, populist appeal in addressing these challenges. Unfortunately, while the plan is long on talking points, it’s short on the policy minutia needed to impact the systemic challenges facing American families.
I’ve been no fan of the White House’s handling of the economy over the last two years, to be sure. But make no mistake: concerns about the state of affairs aren’t limited to my corner of the political spectrum.
The Washington Post — famous for its staunch conservatism — lambasted Biden in a scathing editorial. Yes, that Washington Post — the same outlet that also ran a column that same week, calling for George Washington University to be renamed due to concerns about our first president’s morality.
The Post editorial board accused the Biden administration of “magical thinking” on inflation. The editorial reminded readers of the White House’s early efforts to dismiss concerns over rising consumer prices when the president and his team insisted that high prices would be short-lived.
The editorial board called the administration’s attempts to blame “corporate greed” for the country’s current financial quagmire unproductive. And it insisted that Biden’s efforts to pin inflation on Republicans, specifically Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, were particularly removed from reality.
Again, this wasn’t some sort of an “opposing views” piece — this was the Washington Post editorial board. When a Democratic White House loses the support of the Washington Post, it’s got serious problems.
President Biden’s advisors don’t need the Post’s editorial board to tell them they’re in hot water, though. Biden’s free-falling poll numbers have summed up his poor political standing with the American people for months.
There’s little reason to believe the factors driving inflation will be alleviated between now and election day, and that spells serious trouble for Democrats seeking to hold onto slim majorities in Congress.
Fixing runaway inflation is no simple matter. It’s complicated. It takes time. It takes conscious, earnest effort to arrive at a solution. No one can accuse the Biden administration of ignoring an apparent silver bullet capable of unwinding months of supply chain chaos, the most serious armed conflict in Europe since World War II, and a pandemic that continues to weigh on global productivity.
Unfortunately, President Biden isn’t equal to the task. The best Biden has to offer is bullet points and more finger-pointing. Voters won’t buy that. And odds are, Biden’s bad numbers will continue to show as much as November approaches.
Dan Eberhart, a high-profile GOP donor, serves as the CEO of Canary, LLC., an oil services company with crews around the country from North Dakota to Arizona.
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