Democrats denounce fuel tax suspension
On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama said of the tax suspension, “We’re arguing over a gimmick that would save you half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer so that everyone in Washington can pat themselves on the back and say they did something. Well, let me tell you, this isn’t an idea designed to get you through the summer, it’s designed to get them through an election.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) in April said gas tax holidays are “good PR,” but shared the concern that there is “no guarantee that the reduction in the federal tax would be passed on to the consumer.”
Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D., Ore.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, agreed.
“Suspending the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax is not going to give consumers significant relief—if any at all,” DeFazio said in February, adding that the move may have negative effects. “Suspending the tax will blow a $26 billion hole in the highway trust fund this year and cause further delay in rebuilding our decrepit infrastructure and the tens of thousands of jobs that investment would have provided.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) also foresees road blocks for infrastructure projects. He said the suspension “just doesn’t make sense,” adding, “People want their bridges and their roads, and we have an infrastructure bill we just passed this summer, and they want to take that all away.”
The Free Beacon reported Monday that Biden is the least popular president in more than a century. Democrats are on the fence about his viability for a second term and bracing for a tumultuous midterm season.
Whether or not Marie Antoinette said rioting French peasants upset about the shortage of bread to feed their families should “eat cake” instead is not important. The idea that she did has been passed down, generation to generation, as the perfect illustration of how the isolated elites in a society can become hopelessly out of touch.
This is not just a problem for the rich but also for the powerful, who use their positions to grant themselves perks that alleviate the need for them to worry about the kinds of things that keep the rest of us at night.
Like whether we’re going to have enough gas in the car to get to work in the morning.
Since coming into office, the Biden Administration has been at war with the American energy sector. Following the President’s lead, they believe climate change is an existential threat to the continued well-being of mankind that can only be thwarted if Americans are forced to go green.
That’s what’s really behind the sudden, continuing rise in the price of gasoline. It’s not, as President Joe Biden continues to assert, a transitory thing caused by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It is the result of calculated policy decisions intended to roll back the energy independence that became a reality by the end of the Trump Administration.
There’s nothing wrong with green energy per se. Indeed, the United States would realize considerable benefit from the ability to rely on fuel coming from renewable sources like wind and solar and to be more efficient in the generation and use of power from fossil fuels so that less of it is wasted
All that can be achieved by market forces a lot faster and cheaper than by government mandates. The Biden Administration has chosen – regardless of the consequences – to force this upon us all, meaning that some people are now, in a period of inflation unseen for at least 40 years, to face the very real choice between putting gas in the car and food on the table.
Too many Democrats regard that as a good thing. They don’t blame the government for the problem. They blame the energy sector, which it criticizes for earning record profits because the price at the pump is up thanks to the shrinkage Biden and his cohorts have forced on the industry. The cancelation of new pipelines and oil and gas leases on federal lands are two among a handful of reasons domestic energy producers cannot respond to the increase in demand by increasing the supply to keep prices stable.
The energy markets are behaving as the President wants, given his belief, he can prioritize his strategy to increase the use of energy made from renewables and the need to bring down the price of gasoline.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre seemed badly ignorant of economic reality when she insisted during a recent press briefing that there was nothing inherently problematic with pursuing both objectives at the same time.
“What we’re trying to deal with right now is how do we lower costs for American families,” she said. “One of the things that we are seeing currently right now with oil refiners is they are using this moment,” she continued, “to actually make a profit.”
She can get away with shifting blame for a while but what does she suggest as an alternative? Does she think the energy sector should sell gasoline and other fuels at a loss? That’s a recipe for economic catastrophe, as would be the kind of nationalization of the sector that exists in so many other countries.
The problem is that Biden and Jean-Pierre and so many others are out of touch with what’s going on. The people aren’t rioting for gas yet, but it may just be a matter of time.
Consider the comments of Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who recently described a drive she made from her home state to Washington in an electric vehicle.
“After waiting for a long time to have enough chips in this country to finally get my electric vehicle,” the state’s senior elected Democrat said during a June 7 meeting of the Senate Finance Committee. “I got it and drove it from Michigan to here last weekend and went by every gas station and it didn’t matter how high it was.”
Stabenow doesn’t have to choose between putting food on her table and putting gas in her car. Rather than being grateful and understanding she’s insulated from reality because she enjoys elected privilege, she claims she’s mystified by the expressions of concern coming from the American people because they are routinely paying more than $100 for a full tank of gas. Wonderful.
An elected official, whose annual salary is just shy of $200,000, is driving a car that cost more than most Americans make in a year that the taxpayers probably pay for her to use, thinks high gas prices aren’t a problem because she doesn’t have to pay them anymore. That’s the kind of leadership that causes politicians to lose their heads.
By The Atlantic•
As somebody who’s paid to tell stories about the economy, I always find it satisfying to assemble data points to produce a compelling pointillist picture about the state of the world. But these are rough times for economic pointillism. The data are all over the place, and the big picture is a big mess.
I look at the stock market, where valuations have collapsed. Okay, so markets are trying to tell us that future growth will be slower. Then, I see that consumers expect persistent inflation over the next five years. A growth slowdown with sticky inflation? Unusual, but not unprecedented. Consumers are glum about economic conditions but optimistic about their own finances, and they’re spending money on services and leisure and travel as if they’re eager participants in a booming economy. So everything is terrible, but I’m doing fine? Okay, that’s psychologically rich. Nominal gas prices are at record highs, but unemployment is near multi-decade lows; mortgage interest rates are rising quickly, but they’re at historically normal levels. So, things are bad, but also good, but also crummy, and maybe fine?
Regrettably, there’s another, significantly more important economic storyteller that also seems deeply confused about the economy. That would be the Federal Reserve.
Just six months ago, the Fed said it expected that prices would normalize in 2022, and it forecast that a key inflation index would average 2.6 percent growth this year. But now it projects that 2022 inflation will be twice as high, at 5.2 percent. Three months ago, the Fed signaled that it would raise a key interest rate by 0.5 percentage points in June. But this week, the Fed changed its mind after getting spooked by a few inflation reports and suddenly decided to jack up the federal-funds rate by 0.75 points, its most significant increase in 28 years.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s explanation for the rate change was baffling. He claimed that the number of job openings in the economy pointed to “a real imbalance in wage negotiating” but also said that the labor market had practically nothing to do with inflation. He explained that headline inflation has soared largely because of supply-side issues, such as the war in Ukraine’s impact on the gas market, that the Fed can’t really do anything about. But he also insisted that the Fed had to up the ante on interest-rate hikes to bring down inflation by reducing demand. He insisted that he didn’t want to send the economy into a recession, but the Fed’s own economic forecasts project several consecutive years of rising unemployment—something that generally happens only in a recession.
The full story only barely holds together. In the Fed’s view, inflation is partially caused by the labor market, but also not caused by the labor market; it’s largely a supply-side issue that the Fed can’t fix, but the Fed is going to try desperately to fix it anyway; and we’re hopefully not getting a recession, but we’re probably getting a recession. Like I said: baffling.
What the Fed is actually trying to do here—as opposed to the story it’s telling about what’s happening in the economy—is clear, yet extremely difficult: It is trying to destroy demand just enough to reduce excess inflation but not so much that the economy crashes. This a little bit like trying to tranquilize a raging grizzly bear with experimental drugs: Maybe you bring down its core temperature but also maybe you leave the big guy in a coma. The Fed could succeed. It could get Americans to spend a little less, borrow a little less, and loan a little less, and this synchronized decrescendo in economic activity would almost certainly reduce inflation. But here’s the problem: If global energy prices don’t come down and global supply chains remain tangled by Omicron variants and other natural disasters, we might end up with the worst of both worlds: destroyed domestic demand and constricted global supply. Slow growth and high energy prices could mean the return of the dreaded stagflation.
In the next few months, you should be prepared for the economic situation to get even stranger. Markets might be on the lookout for signs that the Fed is successfully crushing domestic demand. In other words, some investors will be hoping that the housing market stalls and retail spending slows, because these are signs that the Fed’s policy is working. We will be in an upside-down world where bad news (the economy is slowing down) is interpreted as good news (the Fed’s policy is working), and good news (consumer spending is still red hot) is interpreted as bad news (the Fed’s policy isn’t working).
For much of this century, the Fed has been an island of relative competency in a sea of institutional failure. But the Fed is neither an all-knowing artificial intelligence nor a band of wizard oracles sent from the future to stabilize price levels. The people who work there are fundamentally pundits with an interest-rate lever. They’re folks like you and me, telling stories about an economy that they’ve recently gotten wrong, wrong, wrong, and then kinda right, and then wrong again. I don’t know if this is comforting or terrifying to you, but it’s the full truth: Right now, we are truly all confused together.
The closer attention you pay to Biden, the less he has to say
President Joe Biden is “rattled,” according to NBC News, and “looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign.”
How? By trying to change the media narrative. On May 30, Biden published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that explained “My Plan for Fighting Inflation.” The next day, Biden wrote a “guest essay” for the New York Times on “What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine.”
Bad poll numbers and a collapsing domestic and international situation have excited the typically drowsy president into action. There’s a problem, though. The closer you read Biden’s op-eds, the less he has to say. This new, annoyed, engaged Biden may be a prolific writer and speaker. But he’s not an incisive one. He won’t admit that there is a connection between his ideology and America’s problems. He can’t decide between giving Ukraine the weapons necessary to defeat Russia or settling for a war of attrition.
Biden’s Journal op-ed is a masterclass in passing the buck. He doesn’t bring up his “plan for fighting inflation” until midway through his thousand-word piece. My inner college professor wanted to send the article back to him with suggestions for revision. Number one: Always move your best material to the top!
The plan itself is gauzy and thin. “The Federal Reserve has a primary responsibility to control inflation.” You wouldn’t know that from listening to Progressives, including some of Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve, who argue that the Fed’s interest in price stability distracts it from promoting full employment, green energy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Now Biden wants the Fed to correct not only its mistakes, but his own. Let’s see if his faith in an independent central bank can stand the test of higher interest rates, higher unemployment, and lower incomes.
Parts two and three of Biden’s inflation plan are the remnants of his Build Back Better agenda: some clean energy and housing subsidies here, a few tax hikes there. He mentions his use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices, but not his appeals to Venezuela and OPEC to boost the oil supply. As for the obvious answers to America’s energy problems—a complete reversal of Biden’s hostility to oil and gas exploration and production, huge investments in nuclear power, and emergency efforts to increase refinery capacity—Biden has no words. His devotion to the environmental lobby and to green energy blinds him. If the Progressive Left rejects nuclear power, the “clean energy future” it desires won’t arrive.
This mismatch between ends and means is visible in Biden’s Ukraine policy. The president tells New York Times readers that the United States sends Ukraine weapons “so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.” The desired end state is “a democratic, independent, sovereign, and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.” And Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is in the driver’s seat. “I will not pressure the Ukrainian government—in private or public—to make any territorial concessions.”
All good. Why, then, limit the weapons deliveries to systems with ranges of 40 miles? Why slow-walk and agonize over each tranche of support? Why engage with Russia in farcical and dangerous negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons? Why not take a more active role in peace talks between Ukraine and Russia? The Biden policy is static even as the shape of the war changes in ways that favor the aggressor. The president’s goals are laudable. But his tactics are calibrated for a war that Ukraine is winning.
And Ukraine is not winning. At least not now. The Ukrainians defeated Russia’s attempt at regime change. But they have been less successful in removing Russia from eastern Ukraine and from their port cities in the south and southeast. Absent a change in Biden administration policy—in the ranges of weapons systems America provides Ukraine, in the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to relieve the Russian blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, or in a major diplomatic effort—the war will turn into a frozen conflict with no clear resolution and with mounting humanitarian costs. How that situation would help anyone, including Biden, is unclear.
Then again, little Biden says or does makes sense from the vantage point of either policy or politics. He’s right to be rattled. He’s also clueless.
Budget proposal requests millions for 'climate crisis'
While the Biden administration’s small business budget references environmental initiatives more than 20 times, it makes no mention of inflation’s impact on businesses—a contrast that Republican lawmakers say shows a disconnect between the White House and American voters.
The Small Business Administration’s 2023 budget proposal, which the White House in March submitted to Congress for approval, lists the “climate crisis” as an agency priority, requesting $10 million toward environmental initiatives such as the replacement of federal government vehicles with zero-emission cars. The request, meanwhile, makes no mention of rising consumer prices, which in March hit a four-decade high of 8.5 percent—even as recent polling shows inflation is a top concern for business owners. Four out of five small business owners say their companies have “suffered” from inflation, according to an April Goldman Sachs report.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, said the budget is “out of touch with America and reality.”
“The president and his SBA administrator are more focused on appeasing climate activists than helping Americans on Main Street,” Ernst told the Free Beacon. “They need to get a clue.”
The Small Business Administration told the Free Beacon that while inflation is not explicitly mentioned in the budget, the agency’s proposed funding for domestic production and global supply chain programs will help small businesses struggling with rising prices.
“We remain committed to advocating for all our entrepreneurs, including supporting several initiatives in the FY22 budget dedicated to lowering costs for Americans,” an agency spokesman told the Free Beacon.
The White House in recent months has blamed rising prices on global supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine. Some economists, however, have warned that the Biden administration’s record spending has been the main driver of surging inflation. President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed last year, cost an estimated $3.5 trillion. The Small Business Administration, through its Paycheck Protection Program, has forgiven $714 billion in loans to businesses that maintained their staff amid the pandemic.
“This inflation is caused by trillions of newly ‘minted’ dollars flowing through the economy and government-created supply shortages from overregulation and restrictions on society the past two years,” Joel Griffith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who focuses on financial regulations, told the Free Beacon.
Congress will review the Small Business Administration’s proposed budget as it prepares to draft appropriations packages later this year. Several Republicans on the House Small Business Committee, including Beth Van Duyne (Texas), Byron Donalds (Fla.), Dan Meuser (Pa.), and Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.), told the Free Beacon the administration is putting left-wing policies above pressing economic concerns.
The budget “does just the opposite of addressing inflation: more reckless spending on policies straight from the Democrats’ radical and extreme agenda,” Luetkemeyer told the Free Beacon.
A Gallup poll in March found that climate change is the top issue for only 2 percent of Americans. Inflation and increased cost of living, meanwhile, are the top concern for 17 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), also a member of the Small Business Committee, said the Small Business Administration’s priorities are misaligned.
“Every small business owner I talk to is being hammered by inflation, and that’s on top of supply chain delays and a labor shortage,” Rubio told the Free Beacon. “But no one in the Biden Administration seems concerned about the fate of small businesses because they’re too busy pushing some radical, woke nonsense that won’t help anyone on Main Street.”
Inaction by the Biden administration and an aversion towards long-term strategic policy goals has put the United States in an exceedingly vulnerable position, with China and our adversaries aggressively advancing their plans to overtake the United States on the world stage.
Our nation’s current leadership has failed to act on forward-thinking initiatives to strengthen the economic and national security of America. It is imperative that new voices be sent to Washington who recognize future challenges and implement strategic plans to protect the wellbeing of American industry, security and freedom.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict underscores the need for a comprehensive plan to confront geopolitical and domestic challenges before they arise. This conflict was driven by Joe Biden’s withdrawal of United States Energy Independence at the world stage, all while the intelligence community and lawmakers having advance knowledge of a Russian invasion into Ukraine. Instead of acting to deter the Russian threat, lawmakers and the Biden administration failed to issue a preemptive sanction package. By lacking the foresight and courage to act, Biden disgraced American diplomacy and strength on the world stage.
It’s paramount that our next class of lawmakers address the needs of tomorrow’s America and develop long-term policies that strengthen United States national security and economic interests. I led the fight for energy independence and stood with President Trump’s successful policies by suing the Biden administration over the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline and filed suit against Biden’s disastrous ‘Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas’ rule. We must strengthen the American energy sector, and never become a pawn of another nation’s exports.
The lab leak in Wuhan, China exposed critical vulnerabilities in our country’s national security and economy. As Missouri Attorney General, I’ve fought China at every turn, suing the Communist Chinese Party in 2020 to hold them accountable for unleashing COVID-19 on the United States. But more must be done. We must eliminate funding for gain of function research, as seen in the NIH-funded Wuhan lab. The United States, through financing the NIH lab in Wuhan, placed an economic weapon in the hands of our greatest adversary.
This is an unacceptable lack of foresight our country can never allow to happen again. In the U.S. Senate, I will be relentless in my pursuit to hold accountable, whether foreign or domestic, those responsible for unleashing the pandemic on the world.Through Iran-Contra-like investigations, I will ensure that our enemies will never have the opportunity to use American research funding against us again.
Energy independence and opposing China, along with the foresight and willingness to take on these big fights like President Trump did so effectively is what our country needs, with the threat to our nation at the highest point in decades. International turmoil, rising inflation, and economic stagnation embolden our enemies and have been perpetuated by the Biden administration. We must do better. We need fighters. And we need long-term solutions. That’s why I’m running for the United States Senate.
I joined the Marine Corps two weeks out of high school, deployed to Afghanistan, and earned my degree using the GI Bill
By Fox News•
As President Biden considers forgiving student loan debt, there are important factors to consider, including the impact on our military and veterans who earned opportunities to pursue an affordable college education.
For most veterans, the choice to join the military was foremost about serving our country. But for many, it was also about receiving benefits to attend college without debt. Earning the GI Bill meant giving up years of their lives, serving in dangerous jobs and situations. The student loan debate is leaving out the impact cancellation will have on the veteran and active-duty community.
That’s probably why, in a recent Mission Roll Call poll of 6,202 veterans, 77% opposed student loan forgiveness.
College is expensive, and it’s only getting pricier. But since an undergraduate degree — even if unrelated to one’s subsequent career — has become a barrier to entry for most professional career tracks, most prospective students feel like they have no other option. They become saddled with student loans that don’t go away in bankruptcy and can delay important life events like buying a home or having children.Video
But there has always been a path to free higher education. For over 80 years, military service and the GI Bill have enabled millions of Americans to pursue college debt-free, or nearly free. Serve in the military, and the federal government will help ensure you have the resources necessary for success without burdensome debt.
For over 80 years, military service and the GI Bill have enabled millions of Americans to pursue college debt-free, or nearly free
Already in college? Join the ROTC. In the military and want to use the GI Bill for graduate school? Use tuition assistance. Not sure what you want to do out of high school? Enlist and earn your GI Bill. Already have a degree or want to make the military your career? Transfer the GI Bill to your kids.
I joined the Marine Corps two weeks out of high school, deployed to Afghanistan, and earned my degree using the GI Bill. I know firsthand the sacrifices service members made to earn that benefit. They all made a choice. In most cases, joining the military meant receiving the GI Bill and the chance to go to school for little to no cost. They earned that opportunity.
The U.S. military is an all-volunteer force; the active-duty component makes up less than 1% of the total civilian population. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans earn the GI Bill as an incentive for their service. It isn’t something freely given, and it isn’t something any civilian can feel entitled to.
For veterans and active troops who want to pursue a debt-free education through honorable service, policies that forgive student loan debt minimize their efforts and experiences.
Joining the military is not the only way to attend college, but it’s a vital option for service members who want a degree without having to saddle themselves with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. It was certainly the right of those who chose not to serve to find different options, but it should not be at the literal and figurative expense of those who served our nation.
Serving in uniform takes commitment and courage. And as our nation’s leaders discuss student loan forgiveness, we hope they adequately consider the life-changing decisions service members make for our country and honor their service in this debate.
The tried-and-true methods of selling cars are trusted because they work well, as their continued high performance in the marketplace indicates.
The auto industry is undergoing significant, exciting changes. Over the next two years, manufacturers are expected to bring more than 30 new electric vehicle models to market with autonomous vehicles likely to follow soon after.
It’s not just on the product side that things are in flux. Innovations in retail have streamlined the complicated buying process, making changes to the financing, trade-ins, titling, registration, insurance and other parts of car and truck buying.
To the consumer, this is progress. To others, it’s an excuse to once again drag out the tired, old trope that the day of the local dealership is passed. That’s a bunch of snake oil. The truth is that the auto retail and the dealership model is remarkably resilient, growing in popularity among millennials and Gen Z.
A recent piece in the highly respected MarketWatch claimed direct sales through companies like Tesla and Carvana represent the future of auto retail. Assertions like these are merely intuitive, lacking real-world evidence and ignoring what those purchasing cars and trucks have experienced.
Carvana, which sells used cars, is in the crosshairs of federal and state government regulators over a variety of issues involving customers and the buying process. Search “Carvana complaints” on the internet and you’ll find an overwhelming number of unhappy customers nationwide. With its stock down more than 80% since August and its business model called into question, Wall Street is rethinking its support for this one-time market disruptor.
Ironically, Carvana is just the kind of middleman between seller and buyer the proponents of change decry. Tesla, which does not allow negotiation pricing, increased prices on its base model by 37% since it launched, a steep premium for a fixed price on a vehicle already too expensive for most working-class car buyers to consider. Meanwhile, Tesla customers often wait three weeks or longer for simple service and repairs, in part because there is no dealership competition in the Tesla network.
That might be okay for high-income Tesla owners who have alternatives when it comes to personal transportation but for consumers in the mass market, a three-week wait for service is a non-starter. To say Tesla’s sales model embodies the future of car buying is comical.
The traditional franchised dealership model works. Sale prices may be up because of microchip supply constraints that crimped supply and sales by two million vehicles since 2019, and reduced manufacturer incentives but they are nothing like Tesla’s premium.
On the service side, customers benefit when locally owned and operated dealerships compete. In the direct sales model, if the nearest Chevrolet franchise can’t fit you in today, you can almost certainly find another that can.
Don’t overlook the fact virtually all dealerships sell both online and in the showroom, and are increasingly embracing the one-price model. It creates massive efficiencies at the sales level. One large dealership group based in Minneapolis sells on a one-price model and is coming close to getting customers in and out of the dealership in less than 30 minutes. They believe they can bring it down to 15 or less.
The proof is in the data. Escalent, a Detroit-based research firm put together a massive study of Electric Vehicle “intenders” — customers who are interested in purchasing a new EV in the next two years. Escalent asked which sales model consumers prefer — the direct model or the franchised model.
Only 20% of the 30,000 respondents preferred the direct sales model employed by Tesla. Amazingly, the number was even less among millennials and generation Z, where 94% of respondents under 35 are satisfied with dealerships.
Local dealerships have changed dramatically in the last 30 years. Young and first-time car buyers know that firsthand. The ones who don’t are those still hung up on 40-year-old stereotypes, which scarcely exist anywhere anymore.
Changes that produce greater efficiencies, increase productivity, or add to the economies of scale are to be welcome. There are ways traditional franchisers can and have improved the way they do business. Just because something is new doesn’t make it better. Likewise, the tried-and-true methods of production and sale are trusted because they work well, as their performance in the marketplace indicates.
Our increasingly ugly inflation problem is a perfect illustration of the Biden administration’s uncanny ability to get everything everywhere wrong all at once.
The Biden administration’s first response to any problem is to pretend that it isn’t a problem. That’s how inflation went from a minor problem to a major one. Unwilling to take the necessary steps to rein in inflation early — pushing the Fed to raise interest rates and slowing down the torrent of money going out the Treasury’s doors — Biden and congressional Democrats at first insisted that inflation wasn’t a real problem: “Transitory,” they called it.
And then when inflation turned out not to be transitory, they thought they could just pin it on the Russians. Jen Psaki sniffed smugly at the “Putin price hike,” as though Americans were too stupid to understand that inflation at home had started long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That gambit fizzled, too.
When you don’t have any fresh ideas or real principles — and when your long-term goals are limited by the fact that the president, who was born during the Roosevelt administration, isn’t exactly buying any green bananas — then the easiest thing to do is to throw money at every problem.
Throwing money at things is how you make inflation worse.
Washington had already thrown a lot of money at the economy during the COVID-19 emergency, and, predictably, the emergency spending outlasted the emergency. By the time Biden was elected in 2020, Washington had thrown $2.6 trillion in budgetary resources at COVID and had authorized as much as $4 trillion in subsidized federal lending. That was new money amounting to about a third of GDP sloshing around the economy. Biden’s first priority was pushing out another $1 trillion in a phony infrastructure bill (that has little to do with actual infrastructure) and a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, even though the Consumer Price Index was already rising steeply, according to the Federal Reserve.
Our inflation problem is only partly an issue of dovish monetary policy and reckless spending. There are problems in the real-world physical economy, too, those “supply-chain issues” we hear about. The Biden administration has done extraordinarily dumb things to make these worse, too, keeping in place the worst of the Trump administration’s anti-trade policies. That “Made in the USA” talk sounds good on the stump, but the truth is we need a lot that we don’t make at home and aren’t going to — including much of the steel and other vital inputs for the high-value manufacturing we actually do here.
The incredible fact is the Biden administration still had punitive tariffs on Ukrainian steel while it was seeking financial aid for the Ukrainians — it wasn’t until the Chamber of Commerce and conservative critics started making a stink that the administration changed its stance.
Biden has rejected obvious reforms such as waiving the Jones Act, which keeps goods — and fuel — from moving from one US port to another via ship. It has backed union efforts to prevent operators from improving the capacity and efficiency of our ports through automation, sacrificing that progress in favor of a make-work policy for the benefit of longshoremen. Nearly none of that “infrastructure” money has made its way to any project that would actually ease supply-chain issues.
Interfering with trade during a supply-chain crisis is how you make inflation worse.
The United States, Canada and Mexico together make up a formidable energy superpower. But it does not matter how much oil and gas you have if you cannot get it to refineries and then get the refined products to consumers. Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline, and his EPA is standing on the neck of developing any new conventional energy infrastructure. As gasoline prices skyrocket, US refineries in the Gulf are sending much of their gasoline to Mexico to be sold, because there is no economic way to get it to the Northeast or the West Coast.
Biden is contemplating a trip to Saudi Arabia to beg OPEC to produce more oil —apparently, nobody has told him that Midland, Texas, is a hell of a lot closer.
Driving up energy prices for no good reason is how you make inflation worse.
Inflation is sometimes associated with a booming economy, but our economy shrank in the last quarter. Biden, who was in the Senate in the 1970s, is old enough to remember the word “stagflation,” which is what you get when you have a stagnant economy and inflation at the same time.
And it is what you get when you combine the wrong monetary policy with the wrong fiscal policy, the wrong trade policy, the wrong regulatory policy, and the wrong energy policy.
And that’s how you make inflation worse.
According to Matthew 12:36, Jesus said: “And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself.” The absolutely unjustified, illegal and genocidal war of the Russian Federation against the sovereign state of Ukraine cannot hide the former’s uncompromising war with itself. Indeed, present-day Russia is being thoroughly devastated by all the accumulated evil demons of a millennium which have been born from the enduring despotism as well as the inherent barbarism of the violently uncivilized and uncultured core mentality of the Russian people. Moreover, the reality of the West’s enduring superiority over Russia’s historically underdeveloped state of affairs is again materialized in the former’s impressive unity against the antediluvian hatred of the Russian political elite toward the rest of the world. Literally, Russia’s abominable past is killing the present post-Soviet regime of President Putin. For this reason alone, the dead soldiers and civilians have more power over the despotic regime of the Kremlin than all of Russia’s nuclear arsenal with its awe-inspiring destructive powers.
Clearly, the disintegration of President Putin’s despotic regime was evident on May 9, 2022, by the scaled down parade and by his lackluster speech about the war and the purported heroism of his Potamkin military. This military might still achieve partial victories in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, but the costs of the war have further sharpened the deepening chasm between the West and Russia, between Russia and Ukraine, and between Russia and the rest of the world. The increased insubordination and brutality of military commanders and their soldiers, the use of illegal methods as killers in uniform have become heroes for the majority of Russians, and the pusillanimous cowardice of the badly trained conscripts, all point to the diminishing control of the President and his close circle over the mainstay of the regime.
In the economy, the burgeoning effects of the sanctions, the uncertainties of the duration and final outcome of the war, combined with the growing unemployment, will certainly lead to the loss of credibility of the regime. Judging by President Putin’s victory day speech, he and his administration are badly divided and even clueless about how to extricate themselves from their self-inflicted misery. Granted that there has been no shortage of able bureaucrats in the Central Bank of Russia and the ministries responsible for the economy, but they do not have the political power to change the ossified and obsolete parts of the existing corrupt structures. In this manner, President Putin and his entourage can only rely on the bastions of the regime, the collection of various police forces and the faltering military. Facing humiliation in the battlefield and marching toward an economic as well as financial abyss, President Putin’s despotic regime will be incapable of embracing reality in a constructive way. The power of reason will be defeated by the fear of collapse that, in turn, will prevent developing a strategy which could enable Russia to change course and finally begin progressing toward a normal political harmonization.
Where does all this leave President Putin and Russia? It leaves both in a bottomless vacuum filled with innumerable crises. It leaves him personally in an unenviable position of becoming the prisoner of his own fantasies and illusions. It leaves him, if the war does not go his way, in desperate denial and even nihilism. It leaves him no choice but to increase oppression by new concentration camps, inhumane prison conditions and execution squads against everybody who even slightly expresses doubts about his narcissistic as well as delusional course of Russia.
Himself possessed by the demons of the past, namely, the never existent greatness of Tsarist Russia, the misleadingly fallacious strength of the former Soviet Union and the foul semi-Christian doctrines of the official Russian Orthodox Church, President Putin does not comprehend his country’s actual place and importance regionally and globally.
Aiming at destroying the entire European political system in order to restore the so-called Soviet Empire, President Putin has signed his and his country’s death warrant. Surely, Ukraine is going to turn into Russia’s greatest disaster, because President Putin and his comrades do not have the wherewithal to make genuine peace. By stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the sovereignty of the formerly Soviet Republics, every illegal Russian military invasion will be nothing but a truce, by which every fleeting victory will only feed the Kremlin’s growing paranoia. In the twenty second year of his despotism, the 69-year-old president and his small group of like-minded advisors have lived too long in their own cocoons; not being able to grasp the ubiquitous depravity of the monster that their predecessors and they have created. Imprisoned in their own lies and deceptions, President Putin and his comrades will remain ruthless manipulators of their nuclear prowess without any redeeming principles.
Thus, devoid of the gift of seeing clearly the realities of the world, their lives will continue to be uncompromisingly hellish. In order to prevent the total breakdown of the international order and to accelerate the demise of this wicked despotism, all states must remain firmly united in their uncompromising resolve to stop once and for all this cancerous growth from destroying the world.
Biden gets desperate
A wise man once said: “When the economy is bad, people blame the party in power. When the economy is good, people look at other issues.”
Well, the economy is bad. Nice-sounding growth, job, and wage numbers do not count for much when the American standard of living is in decline. Inflation has outpaced income gains since last year. It remains at a 40-year high. Gas costs more than four dollars per gallon—sometimes much more—in every state. Americans under 40 years old are experiencing consumer delays, shortages, and scarce necessities, including baby formula, for the first time in their lives. According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans say that inflation is “a very big problem.”
It’s also a very big problem for the party in power. President Biden’s economic approval rating is 34 percent in the most recent CNN poll. His overall job approval rating is 41 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Republicans have held a slight but durable lead in the congressional generic ballot since last October. The midterm election is less than six months away. To preserve their narrow majorities in Congress, Democrats need to change the trajectory of this campaign. Right now.
Their solution? Pretend that the election isn’t a referendum on Biden’s job performance but a choice between Biden and Donald Trump. Scare voters with references to the extremism of the right. Invoking Trump alone is not enough, however. Terry McAuliffe tried that approach during last year’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign and it flopped. McAuliffe lost. Running against Trump and the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement doesn’t work when Trump is neither president nor on the ballot. Democrats have convinced themselves that victory in the fall requires something scarier than MAGA. It requires Ultra-MAGA.
On May 10 Biden contrasted his policies with the “Ultra-MAGA Agenda.” Haven’t heard of it? According to Biden, it’s the brainchild of Senator Rick Scott of Florida, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (In his remarks, Biden erroneously said Scott hails from Wisconsin.) Back in February, Scott released a policy document that remains controversial within the Republican Party and that few Republican candidates have endorsed in full.
Biden isn’t subtle. He wants to use Scott’s proposals as an electoral cudgel, just as Barack Obama campaigned against Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” in 2012. Hence Biden’s description of “the ultra-MAGA plan put forward by congressional Republicans to raise taxes on working families; lower the incomes of American workers; threaten the sacred programs American count on like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and give break after break to big corporations and billionaires.” Biden says that his foes are not ordinary Republicans. They are not run-of-the-mill Trump voters. They are “Ultra-MAGA Republicans.”
Someone has been spending too much time in focus groups. The Biden administration and congressional Democrats must think that the prefix “ultra” makes a noun sound spooky. But the president and his underlings will have to specify who really counts as an Ultra-MAGA Republican, what the Ultra-MAGA agenda entails, and when “ultra” should be capitalized before voters stop worrying about rising prices, violent crime, insecure borders, and craziness in schools. In its current usage, “ultra-MAGA” comes across as comical. It’s a hackneyed slogan. Some people may even find it appealing.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the other day that “ultra-MAGA” is the president’s coinage for Republicans who support Rick Scott’s plan, Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion returning abortion law to the states, and Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R., Fla.) fight with Disney. “And so,” said Psaki, “to him, adding a little ‘ultra’ to it, gives it a little extra pop.”
A little extra pop? What is Psaki talking about—a new flavor of Pringles?
The Democrats are unable or incapable of running on their accomplishments. Their economic agenda is discredited among voters grappling with inflation. Their traditional advantage on education has narrowed because of parental fury at school closures, mask rules, confusing COVID guidance, and politically correct school boards. They have fallen back on scaremongering and name-calling.
Not for the first time. Nor for the last. Expect the alarm bells to ring louder as autumn approaches. By Election Day, Biden will have moved from “Ultra-MAGA” to “Mega-MAGA,” “Super-Duper MAGA,” “MAGA Deluxe XXL,” and, in homage to his love of ice cream, “All-Out Triple Scoop Chunky Monkey MAGA with Extra Deplorables.” Voters will respond as they usually do when Biden speaks. They will ignore him.
Billions of dollars in taxpayer funds intended to keep schools open during the COVID-19 pandemic will instead be used to push Critical Race Theory on children.
$122 billion from President Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” is slated for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Under the law, those funds are supposed “to help safely reopen and sustain the same operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Nation’s students.”
Fox News reports schools in some states plan to instead spend those funds on “implicit bias” and “anti-racism” training, which teaches children that all white people are racist and global socialism is the only hope for racial reconciliation.
Fox News reports:
Applications were due on June 7, 2021, and at least $46.5 billion from the ARP ESSER fund has been allocated to 13 states, including California, New York and Illinois, that are planning to use the funds to implement CRT in their schools.
The California Department of Education was awarded $15.1 billion in ARP ESSER funding to implement its schools reopening plan, which included $1.5 billion for training resources for school staff regarding “high-need topics,” like “implicit bias training.”
The California DoE used funds to “increase educator training and resources” in subjects such as “anti-bias strategies,” “environmental literacy,” “ethnic studies,” and “LGBTQ+ cultural competency,” according to the plan.
[Secretary of Education] Cardona said in November 2021 that he was “excited” to approve California’s plan, and that it laid the “groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.”
The U.S. Department of Education claims the political re-education classes are necessary to “meet student and educators’ social, emotional, and mental health needs” and are part of a larger government-driven “culture shift” to ensure schools “reopen equitably for all students.”
One wonders what the Democrats in charge of the party’s economic program are thinking—if they indeed think at all. Their proposals are frighteningly similar year after year, decade after decade and now century after century.
The truth is that their objective is not fairness so much as it is to punish the successful. As it is, because honesty and other important virtues got tossed out the window long ago, the public continues in ignorance, counseled by fools and pretenders who explain their troubles away as being someone else’s fault.
Democrats’ worldview does not include certain proven realities, such as the fact that higher tax rates on income do not necessarily raise more revenue than lower ones. Each time the federal government has enacted major rate cuts, revenues increased because the corresponding increase in activity caused the economy to grow, as happened under Presidents Harding, Kennedy and Reagan.
It also happened under Trump. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 21 percent corporate income tax generated revenues of $372 billion in 2021—nearly as much, the Wall Street Journal recently observed, as the CBO projected would come in at the previous rate of 35 percent.
Somehow, today’s Democratic Party leaders missed all that. When you recall that people used to refer to them as the party of “sound money,” the shift is comical. Consider Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer‘s latest gambit to reduce energy prices—which spiked after the Biden administration attacked the production of energy from domestic sources—by raising energy taxes.
“A wide array of Democrats, including Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), are now finalizing measures that would impose steep fines for abuse, crack down on corporate consolidation or set up new taxes on oil and gas companies’ profit windfalls,” The Washington Post recently reported, without bothering to explain how making energy more expensive (which is what more taxes on energy will do) will bring the price down.
Up is up and down is down unless someone convinces you somehow that two plus two equals five.
The problem of economic mismanagement isn’t confined to Washington. Some politicians believe subsidies are forever. In Kentucky, Democratic governor Andy Beshear vetoed legislation bringing the COVID state of emergency to an end—not because the disease remained a threat, but because he wanted to preserve the flow of relief money to fight the sudden reappearance of inflation by distributing it to folks who are most severely affected. These same people are probably more likely to vote for him when he runs for reelection than those who can better manage the rise in the price of essentials occurring on Joe Biden‘s watch, but Beshear almost certainly never gave that a moment’s thought.
The latest gambit, also backed by Schumer, is the Biden plan to tax unrealized capital gains. As the Democrats see it, when the value of an asset—such as stock shares, real estate holdings or artwork—increases, the owner should have to pay a tax on its newly assessed value. Why that won’t work, at least in economic terms, is that the owner of an unsold asset realizes no actual “gain.” That makes the proposal a wealth tax, which is constitutionally dubious.
Those who understand economics, and believe the government should preserve value rather than loot the stores of the successful, have argued in response that real fairness would lead to the indexation of the value of capital assets to take inflation into account. Without indexation, as data from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity created by Dr. Arthur Laffer show, “the effect of high and persistent inflation in the 1970s pushed the tax rate on REAL gains to 100 percent or more. In other words, investors paid a tax on real capital losses.”
Inflation, which occurs most often because of government mismanaging the economy, destroys the real value of assets even if their price appears to go up. Taxing the apparent appreciation of those assets without considering whether their real value has gone down is confiscatory.
Therein, as Shakespeare wrote, lies the rub. Republicans see tax policy as a tool useful for producing economic growth—which is a good thing. Jobs are created, wages rise, gains in productivity are achieved and living standards improve. Unfortunately for us all, including the disadvantaged, that’s not how progressives see them.READ MORE
To progressives, taxes are a way to redistribute income and punish the successful. The concept of progressive taxation is based on the idea that equalization of outcomes is a good thing. Somehow though, year over year, decade over decade and century over century it never happens.
When the economy doesn’t grow, the rich generally manage to stay rich or get richer while the poor get poorer. Nevertheless, progressives continue to promote these policies as they have since before the creation of the income tax under Woodrow Wilson. That’s because, as historian Ryan Walters writes in his new book on President Warren G. Harding, “The idea of a national income tax had always excited those who wanted to expand the size and scope of government.”
Such proposals, Walters writes, bring inherent danger. “When men once get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they are not easily cured of it,” The New York Times once wrote during the debate over the income tax amendment, according to Walters. The great grey lady of American journalism was, that time at least, absolutely right.
Despite pushing Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in lethal aid to Ukraine amidst its ongoing effort to repel Russian invaders and drive them from their homeland, U.S. voters still regard President Joe Biden as a weaker leader than any of his predecessors.
The polling firm Rasmussen Reports queried 1,000 U.S. voters likely to cast ballots in the next election about their feelings regarding Biden’s leadership. Only 24 percent of those who responded said they found him to be a “stronger commander-in-chief” than those who preceded him in office.
The public’s view of Biden’s ability to handle pressing issues of national security was undoubtfully shaped unfavorably by the sudden, chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that took enemies and allies alike by surprise.
In the ensuing chaos, people who had worked with the United States forces and those who had partnered with the Americans on national building projects under George W. Bush and Barack Obama found themselves left behind, unable to get out of the country now that the various provinces and capital city of Kabul had come under the control of the Taliban.
The findings in the latest poll, Rasmussen Reports said, were largely unchanged from November 2021, before the Russians launched their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In that survey, 57 percent of respondents said Biden was weaker than his predecessors.
Supporter for Biden has been steadily declining since he came into office. His job approval rating in various polls, which started above 60 percent, has dropped into the low 40s and threatens to go even lower as the election nears, due in the main to the perception the current administration has done a poor job controlling inflation and has shown little concern for its impact on the working men and women who used to make up the bulwark of the Democratic Party’s winning electoral coalition.
Shockingly, two-thirds of those responding to the survey who are current or former members of the U.S. military – 64 percent – agreed Biden was a weaker leader than those who came before him. Though only a small part of the survey – 15 percent – their educated opinion on such matters is not something the current administration should ignore going forward.
According to the Rasmussen analysis, not even half of the Democrats who answered the survey conducted online and by telephone would say Biden was “stronger.” Just 41 percent of those in the president’s party agreed with that position, as did 8 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents polled. A whopping 84 percent of likely GOP voters said Biden “is a weaker commander in chief compared to most recent presidents,” as did 26 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of unaffiliated voters.
When it comes to dealing with other world leaders, 60 percent of all likely voters found Biden to be “less aggressive than most recent presidents in pushing what’s best for America.” Only 23 percent said he was more aggressive, while just 12 percent said he was “about the same” in pushing for America’s interests.
Those finding Biden “less aggressive” included 80 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of unaffiliated voters.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on April 24-25, 2022, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
The Biden administration is over. Sure, he has another two years plus in the White House and might even win a second term (if he runs and if the GOP nominates an unelectable candidate), but he’s lost the ability to set the agenda for the country, and he’s not getting it back.
Some people argue he’s been derailed by events which, as former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan famously said presented the biggest challenge to any administration, but that’s not true. Biden and his people have exhibited a degree of organizational incompetence and a tin ear for the public sentiment on key issues.
Emblematic of all this is special climate envoy John F. Kerry, a former Secretary of State and the 2004 Democratic nominee for president. He cheerfully travels the world in private jets to receive awards for his work combatting global warming, is caught flying maskless on commercial flights despite his own administration’s transportation masking mandate and reacts to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by voicing concerns it will distract from the effort to move the economy of the West away from its reliance on fossil fuels.
Kerry’s also dismissive of the job losses and economic dislocations that would occur if, as the Biden administration is pushing for, the U.S. economy were to transition from one dependent on fossil fuels to one where renewables were the dominant energy source. He called that an “opportunity” rather than a major crisis for millions of working-class families and employees in the energy sector. Maybe they can just learn to code or grow Belgian endive.
It’s hard to imagine anyone more out of touch with the hoi polloi than that. Unfortunately for us all, Kerry is just the tip of a very large iceberg of party leaders and policymakers indifferent to the needs of hard-working Americans trying to find their way back to prosperity and economic security in the face of rising interest rates and record inflation.
Biden doesn’t have a plan to deal with any of it. He says he does, but that’s posturing. The White House announced with great fanfare nearly a month ago that the president has authorized the release of fuel stocks held in the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves to blunt the spike in the price of gasoline he blamed on Putin.
To set the record straight, gas prices were rising before Putin launched his attack. Energy prices are going up because of Biden’s policies, not global events. Yet the contracts to get the oil in the SPR to market were only completed Thursday. Good thing there wasn’t a real emergency like a nation hostile to the United States or a terrorist group seizing or disabling the Suez Canal.
As for inflation across the economy, the New York Federal Reserve Bank has shown that inflation took off appreciably in 2021, the first year Biden was in office. Even former Obama-Biden Economic Advisor Jason Furman said the inflation now reducing the purchasing power of working Americans is not transitory as the White House originally tried to claim but will instead continue due to increased demand created, as the RNC recently pointed out, by excess savings built by the Democrats’ endless government checks from their $2 trillion so-called COVID stimulus.
All this is costing Biden, as is his failure to push the Build Back Better legislation through Congress or to achieve any progress on the other critical campaign promises he made to the voters who chose to back him in the primary over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or in the general election against former President Donald Trump.
Much of this is borne out in the latest Gallup Poll, which shows the president to be “stuck” – to use the word employed by the venerable polling firm – in an unpopular place. “During Joe Biden’s fifth quarter in office, which began on January 20 and ended on April 19, an average of 41.3 percent of U.S. adults approved of the job he was doing as president. The latest average is essentially unchanged from the 41.7 percent in his fourth quarter but significantly lower than his first three quarterly averages.”
To put this in perspective, Biden’s latest rating “is lower than that of any prior elected president,” Gallup said, save for Trump, who nonetheless is consistently polling ahead of the current president in polls testing how each would fare in a potential 2024 rematch.
Between then and now, of course, is the 2022 midterm election. Forecasters are predicting the GOP will win control outright, not just of the U.S. House of Representatives but Congress as a whole, further burying Biden’s ability to set the agenda.
Gallup’s analysis of the latest numbers confirms this, saying the president’s low job approval numbers – which are unlikely to improve before the election and it would be ahistorical if they did – stand as “a significant threat to the Democratic Party’s chances of maintaining its slim majorities” in Congress after November. “Typically, unpopular presidents’ parties have lost seats in midterm elections, with the number of seats lost usually much higher for presidents with job approval ratings below 50 percent.”
If the GOP wins control of Congress, it may prove to be the president’s political salvation. Just as Bill Clinton was helped immeasurably by his party’s losing control of the legislative branch in 1994 to Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America Congress, Biden may find it easier to moderate his positions and engage in successful negotiations to get legislation to his desk if he no longer must concern himself with the ability of “The Squad” and other extreme progressives like Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to tank any bill them deem to be insufficiently socialist-leaning all by themselves.
Like Clinton, Biden would look like the moderate he claimed to be in the campaign by agreeing to Republican efforts to bring in budgets that look balanced, rein in the rate of increase in federal spending, get inflation under control, require work once again in exchange for welfare payments, continue real criminal justice reform, make it easier to start and fund charter schools and do other things that have appeal to suburban voters and working Americans.
If Biden and his staff are smart enough to realize this is how to play the hand the voters are about to deal them, then he becomes a much stronger candidate for a second term – just not on the terms he and others close to him might like. If they go into 2024 forcing the American electorate to choose between heading left or heading right, Biden – or whoever the Democratic nominee is – will almost certainly lose.