President Biden was no doubt delighted to be far, far away from home when the latest – disastrous – report on inflation was released. Confronted with news that prices had jumped 9.1 percent from a year ago, worse than expected, Biden issued a statement downplaying the news, saying the report was “out of date” since gasoline prices have dropped 40 cents over the past month. Got that? 40 cents.
The president was echoing a statement that his economic brain trust issued the day before in which Brian Deese and Cecilia Rouse provided “context” for the anticipated inflation read. They wrote that energy and food prices were especially volatile.
Americans may see a different sort of “context.” They might notice that nearly everything is getting more expensive and that despite a softening in some commodities in recent months, inflation accelerated in June.
They may also conclude that Democrats in charge are not helping.
While much of Washington is focused on the Jan. 6 committee hearings, Americans in the rest of the country are focused on how they can afford to feed their families, with food prices 12 percent higher than a year ago.
As Democrat climate zealots push to kill off our oil and gas industry, voters find themselves paying not only 60 percent more for gasoline than they did a year ago, but also 98 percent more for fuel oil.
While liberals debate whether men can get pregnant, families struggle to pay 11 percent more for a new car, 10 percent more for toddler clothes, an additional 13 percent for baby formula, 17 percent more for health insurance, 14 percent extra for auto body repairs, 34 percent more for airline fares, an increased 14 percent on delivery services and 13 percent more for gift wrap. Did Putin raise the price of gift wrap?
Yes, I’ve selected some of the worst increases, but the point is: Inflation is everywhere.
These are real-world problems, impacting, according to polls, 87 percent of the public. It’s a public that doesn’t believe their elected representatives, or their president, is tuned into their distress.
Maybe that’s because Biden has been touring the country touting the success of his economic agenda. In May, he boasted that “our economy has gone from being on the mend to on the move.”
As his approval ratings nosedived, Biden took a new tack, calling the scourge of higher prices “Putin’s tax on both food and gas” and claiming that core inflation, excluding food and energy, was declining. Though on a 12-month basis that is true, the month-to-month readings tell a different story. May’s core figure was up 0.6 percent, the same as or higher than in prior months and June’s core inflation was 0.7 percent above the May level.
Biden has also blamed meat processors, mom and pop gas station owners, COVID-19, oil companies, shipping firms and – wait for it – Republicans for high inflation. In a recent tweet, Biden (or whoever tweets for him) said, “Republicans are doing nothing but obstructing our efforts to crack down on gas-price gouging, lower food prices, lower healthcare costs, and hopefully, soon, lower your prescription drug costs.”
Some on the right noted that Democrats have a majority in the House and the Senate; a unified party could have passed through reconciliation the legislation that Biden has promoted. Thankfully, some common-sense Democrats recognize the dangers of even more spending.
The government has underplayed, ignored and lied about inflation since prices started to rise last year, soon after Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. They have yet to admit that excess spending got us into this mess; indeed, Biden continues to push for even more outlays. The president has also claimed that inflation in other countries was worse than in the U.S; this is not true.
Biden and his team chose to ignore the flashing inflation warnings. They chose to pursue their progressive agenda, no matter that they put the economy and American families at risk.
But nothing is more inexcusable or more damaging than Biden’s unwillingness to pivot on his climate agenda. The world desperately needs U.S. oil and gas, but the Biden White House continues to find new ways to keep our valuable fossil fuels in the ground.
In addition to canceling the Keystone Pipeline, which would have brought more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day to the U.S. from a friendly nation, Biden’s Interior Department has slow-walked permitting on federal lands and leasing of new acreage for exploration. His financial regulators have discouraged banks from lending to energy producers, starving the industry of long-term capital.
Incredibly, amid an oil shortage, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering imposing ozone rules on the Permian Basin, source of 43 percent of our nation’s oil and gas output, which could curtail future production.
Also, even though Biden has promised our EU allies increased liquified natural gas (LNG) shipments, the EPA may enforce emissions rules on Cheniere, our largest LNG producer, that could severely crimp output, possibly for years. If they are not given relief from newly enacted rules, the U.S. will fall far short of Biden’s pledges.
The shocking inflation figure heightened concerns that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates and upped the odds of a recession. An inversion in bond markets, with the yield on the two-year and five-year Treasuries rising above that on the 10-year, signaled just that prospect. Indeed, many think the U.S. economy has already turned down.
Meanwhile, our anti-oil president is traveling to meet the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, hoping to convince him to raise that country’s oil output. The White House says there will be no press conference following the sit-down. Who is surprised?
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.