CNN's John Harwood wants you to know that it's unfair to expect President Joe Biden to do anything about inflation.
Also, he wants you to know that inflation isn't a big problem anyway, thanks to Biden.
Harwood's "analysis" conveniently covers every base for Biden, and the result is an incoherent mess. For starters, Harwood claims that inflation actually isn't that big of a problem because people have excess savings "thanks to COVID relief checks." People are still spending money, and according to Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, "American households are, for the most part, in a good financial place."
in Washington debate, inflation is "crushing" families— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) May 23, 2022
in real life, pandemic relief has eased the pain
Moody's economist: "excess saving cushioned the impact, even for lower-income households
"households are for the most part in a good financial place" https://t.co/jpqJvuYYKn
Yet, in truth, people now have the equivalent of $9,000 less in savings than they did last year. Wage gains have been erased by inflation, and low-income families are being hit particularly hard by price hikes for housing, groceries, utilities, and gasoline. Harwood is asking that you pay no attention to the financial struggles behind the curtain. Just ignore the 70% of people who are saying that inflation and the state of the economy are real issues they are concerned about and the 33% plurality that chooses "inflation" as "the most urgent issue facing the country today" from a list of 11 issues — three times as many people as those choosing the runner-up issue.
Harwood laments that Biden is taking the brunt of the blame because the White House holds press conferences and the Federal Reserve doesn't. The media question the White House, "home to the most visible public official of all," about inflation, "even though … no White House has much power to bring them down."
Perhaps Biden would be better off not promising to get an issue "under control" when he does not have the power to do so.
Harwood claims that "for unhappy voters, 'not much I can do' doesn't cut it." But that's not what Biden did. He claimed he could fix something, which put him on the hook with those "unhappy voters."
And yes, there are many things Biden could have done, or rather not done, to ease inflation. In fact, in his analysis, Harwood buries one of them after going out of his way to give Biden a free pass. "Indeed, economists across the political spectrum now believe that Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, while it accelerated growth and job creation, exacerbated inflation somewhat by over-stimulating consumer demand," he writes. Gee, ya think?
According to Andrew Prokop at Vox, the increase in prices "started to stand out shortly after President Biden took office." And although Harwood defends Biden by noting that "inflation has surged in countries around the world," Prokop notes that core inflation "has been significantly higher in the U.S. than in other wealthy countries."
Biden insisted that inflation wasn't a real issue last year. He claimed that there was just a temporary price surge. Inflation was transitory, Biden told everyone. When problems persisted, he blamed the meat industry. Then he blamed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, even though it was clear that gas prices and other costs had been increasing well before "Putin's price hike."
So, according to Harwood, inflation isn't a real problem because everyone is doing fine, and Biden can do nothing to fix the issue, even though he promised to make inflation better but made it worse.
To Harwood's credit, this is about as good of a defense as could be made for Biden's train wreck of an administration. But it won't save Biden's party in November because no one is stupid enough to believe it.