Biden: Forget that “mission accomplished” party — and remember that gas station owners are the real inflation villains

Source: Hot Air

No kidding. Joe Biden didn’t exactly admit that his claims to have beaten inflation were worthy of Four Malarkeys or perhaps Four Bags (TEMS viewers will get that joke), but it’s as close as you’d expect.

While speaking briefly with reporters yesterday at a meeting of the White House Competition Council, Biden made clear that he was directing his staff to finally focus on inflation … almost 18 months after Biden’s American Rescue Plan touched it off, and about three weeks after doing an embarrassing touchdown dance on inflation. Wages, Biden has suddenly realized, aren’t keeping up with escalating prices (via The Last Refuge):

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I’m directing members of the council to sharpen their focus — sharpen their focus in lowering the costs for families. Because what’s inflation? Inflation is, at the end of the month, do you have less money from your paycheck or more money in your flaysheck [paycheck]?

I mean, the way that people — is how it’s calculated by the vast majority of American people. And so we got to lower costs for families.

And this isn’t some — just some abstract goal, because the problem isn’t just theoretical. Like many of you, I grew up in a family where when the price of gasoline went up, it was a conversation at the breakfast table. It was a conversation that they — for real.

Ahem. During the entire time that Biden “grew up” (1950s to mid-1960s), the US had a remarkable period of price stability in gasoline. Why? Because we had lots of supply to serve the demand levels of that period, thanks to a massive refining capacity compared to demand, and even crude oil imports were dirt cheap until about the time Biden went to Washington DC. (The two are not related, nor am I arguing they are.) We didn’t see significant price shocks at the gas pumps until the oil embargo in 1973, brought on in part over foreign-policy disputes, and even then were largely unnecessary had we committed to extracting our own oil on a wider basis. It took us nearly a decade to finally demolish the regulatory and tax obstacles to do that, which alleviated our reliance on foreign producers and their strategic advantage over the US.

That’s still a lesson that Biden hasn’t learned.

Back to inflation, though. Let’s recall all of the times that Biden either ignored inflation or passed the buck for it. Despite clear warnings before passing the unnecessary $1.9 trillion ARP that it would touch off a torrent of inflation, Biden either claimed it was just “growth,” that inflation was “transitory,” that it was “corporate greed,” and then finally blaming Putin for it even though above-target inflation began ten months before the invasion of Ukraine.

The corporate-greed excuse is still getting a workout, too, as is blaming mom-and-pop gas station owners for Biden’s own economic and energy-policy incompetence:

We haven’t seen the lower prices reflected at the pump though. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies are still making record profits — billions of dollars in profit. But guess what? The price of oil comes down. Guess how long — don’t you think the price at the pump should come down? The price of gallon of gasoline. But it takes a long time for that to happen in relative terms. And they’re making a lot of profit, and the public is paying as part of the inflation.

And — but, look, my message is simple. To the companies running gas stations and setting those prices at the pump: Bring down the prices you’re charging at the pump to reflect the cost you pay for the product. Do it now. Do it now. Not a month from now — do it now. And it’s going to save people a lot of money.

How dumb is it to make this argument after spending the last two months claiming credit for lower gas prices?

Nor is that the only contradiction in Biden’s ramblings yesterday. What makes this doubly odd is that Biden made almost the opposite claim about wages two weeks ago. While speaking at the Detroit auto show, Biden claimed that “incomes are up,” apparently referring to the nominal DPI figures. Even PolitiFact took issue with that at the time:

“We started with the American Rescue Plan,” Biden said in the Sept. 14 speech, referring to the coronavirus and economic relief bill from early in his presidency. “That’s taken us from economic crisis to economic resurgence. Jobs are up. Incomes are up. People are back to work.”

A reader expressed surprise that Biden had said, “incomes are up,” and he asked us to fact-check it.

Although wages have increased over the past year, those gains have been eaten away by a 40-year-high level of inflation. The inflation is traceable to coronavirus-related supply shortages and may also have been exacerbated by the economic stimulus payments from the same bill Biden mentioned, the American Rescue Plan.

In other words, inflation-adjusted wages — what people experience in purchasing power — are decidedly down on Biden’s watch.

Exactly. It’s not that Americans are seeing lower wages in their paychecks, which would happen in a deflationary environment (which would also be very bad). It’s that Biden and his massive spending bills have made the dollar worth a lot less over the last 18 months.