During a conference with the Financial Times, Janet Yellen said something she cannot possibly believe. To be sure, she parroted the Biden administration's spin that the current inflation is merely a product of the pandemic temporarily constricting supply, but then there was one matter that not even the treasury secretary could spin.

Asked about the reason for the extraordinary low supply of labor, Yellen deemed it a "mystery."

That Yellen should play dumb in this manner is telling, as Yellen is no dummy. The former head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Federal Reserve is eminently qualified for her job, and surely, she knows why the labor force remains artificially depressed. But given that the correct explanation reflects so poorly on her boss, it's only natural that she would plead the Fifth.

With three free vaccines and brand new therapeutics available, all of which nearly eradicate the risk of serious disease due to the coronavirus, the current sorry state of the economy is not really a result of the pandemic anymore. The problem is the government response to it.

Of 2.4 million workers still missing from the labor force, 1.8 million are women. Many of these are mothers who are forced to stay home either because they cannot find child care or because they are being forced to deal with the onerous snap-quarantines that teachers unions are imposing upon their children with the full approbation and backing of Biden's White House.

A poll by the Chamber of Commerce found that, of women not looking for work and thus outside the workforce, 32% said they needed to stay home to care for others. This is twice the share of men who said the same thing. Only 3 in 10 respondents claimed they are still scared of COVID-19, although even this is a worry that the White House has frankly gone out of its way to exacerbate.

Some of the missing workers are those older folks who, amid the chaos and the rapid run-up in the stock market since the pandemic struck, saw a chance to retire sooner than planned. The share of retirees in the general population rose by 1 percentage point over the course of the pandemic — that might not sound like much, but it is actually a precipitous acceleration making retirees nearly a fifth of our population.

Inflation, worsened by Biden's policies, has also exacerbated the effect. Unlike wages, which don't automatically rise with inflation, Social Security payments do so automatically. (It is little coincidence that Social Security's solvency crisis has been accelerated due to the pandemic as well.)

So, it's not just that Biden gave a bunch of people cash when they should have been told they could safely return to normal without killing seniors. The regulatory regime, from the rules governing public schools to capacity and mask restrictions, have made work impossible for many parents and wildly uninviting to seniors who may not be keen on wearing masks for entire workdays.

It's more complicated than "free cash," and it's much, much worse for the political fortunes of the Biden administration. Yellen knows this, and that's why she claims not to.