I wrote about Biden and inflation for Politico today. It’s a good thing that Biden is now at least talking about taking inflation seriously, but his rebranding of his domestic spending as an anti-inflation program reminds me of how, when he needed something to say about crime earlier this year, the administration all of sudden said that the COVID-relief bill could be used to hire cops:
Showing he hasn’t lost his instinct for basic political self-preservation, Biden recently has noted the deleterious effects of inflation and vowed to fight it as a top priority.
He also has, not very convincingly, redefined his infrastructure and Build Back Better proposals as anti-inflationary, though no one ever mentioned this when the bills were being conceived or sold over the past year. But Biden’s BBB plan is now evidently to be considered the equivalent of Gerald Ford’s WIN — the Whip Inflation Now program that didn’t whip the inflation of the 1970s, now or ever.
Since he’s not going to reverse field on any of his major priorities, Biden’s best bet is that his jawboning and pushing at the ports and other points along the supply chain can make a difference at the margins, while companies figure out ways to untangle the mess over time. In the meantime, the global energy crunch could resolve itself as supply catches up to demand. That would presumably take the edge off inflation next year, even if there’s room for housing prices, for instance, to keep rising.
What is not going to work, and hasn’t worked, is trying to talk people out of the lived reality of higher prices.