Biden’s Make-Believe Victory Over Inflation

September 15, 2022

When Democrats have spoken recently, it’s often sounded as if they’re living in a different reality than most Americans.

A good example is President Biden’s response Tuesday when asked if he was worried about the August inflation report: “No, I’m not, because we’re talking about one-tenth of 1%.” Actually, we’re talking about an 8.3% year-over-year increase in the consumer-price index. Mr. Biden focused on the monthly inflation rate and ignored that economists had expected prices to decline in August.

Maybe the president thinks that by saying it was one-tenth of a percent, he can comfort families who in August spent 23.8% more for energy than they did last year, 6.2% more for shelter and 11.4% more for food—buffeted by the largest 12-month increase in grocery prices since 1979. If so, he vastly overestimates his persuasive skills and greatly underestimates American common sense. 

Also on Tuesday morning, Mr. Biden heralded the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage at a White House celebration, complete with a concert by James Taylor. There the president hailed the act as “the single most important legislation passed in the Congress to combat inflation,” claiming it will “lower the cost of healthcare, prescription drugs and energy.” 

No serious economist outside the White House payroll seems to think the new law will reduce inflation. It’s pumping $485 billion more demand into the economy. Nor are any promised reductions in healthcare, drugs and energy prices coming soon, if they arrive at all. The president is gloating about the predicted results of price controls that don’t kick in for years and of green energy programs far from completion. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Biden made no mention of the August inflation report, which was issued shortly before his celebration began.

Instead he crowed about gasoline prices being down $1.30 a gallon since summer began. He didn’t mention that gasoline is still $1.31 a gallon costlier than when he was inaugurated. Nor did he say anything about Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s warning on Sunday that gasoline prices were at risk of rising again later this year. 

Mr. Biden was joined in political la-la land by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who revved up the crowd on the White House lawn by praising the “landmark law” that’s “driving down costs for kitchen-table items for America’s working families.” With the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs up 10.6%, dairy up 16.2%, and fruit and vegetables up 9.4%, it’s unclear to what “kitchen-table items” she was referring. Maybe Mrs. Pelosi was thinking of the clearance table at her local Napa Valley luxury home-goods store.

Democrats haven’t limited their fantastical declarations to inflation. Prominent party members seem intent on insisting that everything is fine, even as numerous policy issues spin out of control. 

Vice President Kamala Harris claimed Sunday that “we have a secure border.” This is belied by Customs and Border Protection apprehension numbers. Through July, they already reached a record 1,946,780 at the southern border—and there are still two months left to count. 

Meanwhile, White House staffers are throwing out ridiculous explanations for the administration’s various midterm policy gambits. National Economic Council deputy director Bharat Ramamurti recently claimed that Mr. Biden’s student-loan forgiveness—which could cost over $1 trillion—“is paid for” by the year’s expected “deficit reduction.” He didn’t explain how a slightly smaller debt could magically become cash on hand.


Democrats can keep spinning fantasies, but the problem is that voters will still encounter reality every day. They know they face high prices at the store and pump. They remember what it cost to clothe their kids for school last year. They know prescription prices still aren’t down. They understand real average hourly wages have fallen each month of the Biden presidency. They’re concerned about the border and rising crime.

Democrats’ reassurances are meant to soothe these worries, but they may instead inspire distrust. For all Mr. Biden’s sweet talk, his approval rating is still anemic: 42.4% in the RealClearPolitics average Wednesday. Fairy tales won’t lift them appreciably higher. What matters is reality. 

James Taylor sang “Fire and Rain” at the White House celebration. Rather than this ballad of suicide, grief and addiction, it would’ve been more fitting if he had played another song from his repertoire—the 1930s Broadway tune “It’s Only a Paper Moon”: “It’s a Barnum and Bailey world / Just as phony as it can be / But it wouldn’t be make-believe / If you believed in me.” It’s a nice song, but a lousy theme on which to run a political campaign. 


Read More at the WSJ

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