The gap between reality and what President Joe Biden says about the economy has widened to the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn point. The Russian writer and dissident reputedly said of Soviet tyrants, “We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying, but they are still lying.”
It's the point at which the vacuity of national politics is obvious. Leaders pretend real problems and public anxiety about them don’t exist and resort to BS rather than acknowledge and deal with them.
Biden deploys the trickster line of argument pioneered by his former boss, President Barack Obama, that people who disagree with him can do so only because they don’t have the facts.
That’s the implication of the president’s tin-eared response to the pain in voters’ wallets, falling real wages, and shortages of basic goods. Instead of offering solutions that anyone finds substantive or persuasive, Biden boasts about his wonderful economic achievements. He talks as though we’re on the sunlit uplands rather than teetering on the edge of recession and stagflation.
When the Labor Department reported weekly unemployment claims of 218,000 and continuing claims of 1.37 million, the lowest since 1969, Biden announced, “America is back to work,” touting the fall in dependency on unemployment checks since he came to office. But that is due to a post-pandemic rebound. And the labor force participation rate is now falling again because more people aren’t bothering to look for jobs even though 11 million vacancies await them.
FiveThirtyEight is the latest pollster to find inflation massively outstripping every other issue of voter concern. Fully 52% (65% of Republicans and 42% of Democrats) say price hikes are among the most important problems facing the country. The next most important, political extremism and polarization, is a worry to hardly more than half as many — 29% of independents, 25% of Republicans, and 32% of Democrats. Inflation worries will swamp other concerns when Americans cast their votes in November’s congressional midterm elections; climate change, war, COVID-19, equality, and healthcare register only in the mid-teens.
One noninflation crisis that does register in a way likely to affect November’s voting is immigration. Democrats don’t care about it, with only 7% saying it’s important. But independents (19%) and the public generally (20%) think it’s a big deal, and 35% of Republicans seem likely to be motivated by it.
Biden plans to fight inflation with higher taxes, increased government spending, and more regulation, all of which will make it worse. He says his agenda will fix the problem, but, as Solzhenitsyn said … well, you know.
One gets the impression that the president has reached a point at which he knows he isn’t fooling anyone, except possibly himself. But he has no other options acceptable to his radical base. The Left wouldn’t stomach spending restraint, deregulation, reassuringly steady low taxes, and other fiscally sound measures that would treat public concerns as real and serious and start to make them better.
It leaves Biden in a tough spot, saying and doing things that exacerbate his tendency to seem woefully out of touch.