The S&P 500 is down more than 5% since Joe Biden took office, and the Dow Jones Industrial is down more than 4%.
The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and raising borrowing costs across the board.
And one of the country’s most respected bankers is warning of a recession, telling a conference that “this is serious business”.
Still, there was President Joe Biden, enjoying an ice cream cone in Portland, Oregon, saying that “our economy is strong as hell.”
Inflation? It doesn’t worry him, at least not if the rest of the world could pull itself together.
“Inflation is global,” he said. “It’s worse off than in the United States. So the problem is the lack of economic growth and sound policies in other countries, not so much in ours.”
With polls showing the economy gaining importance for the midterm elections — 44% of voters say it’s their top concern, up from 36% in July, according to the latest New York Times poll — Biden’s overall performance on the issue is even more important , to his detriment and that of his party.
There are shrewd political maneuverers who react to circumstances when necessary, and then narrow-minded and sullen politicians who cannot or will not face reality.
There are policymakers whose worldviews conform to basic economic laws, and then those who are always bound to be confused by the real consequences of their ideological fixations.
There are master communicators who can make anyone feel better about anything, and then there are stumbling blocks whose evasive maneuvers and logical flaws are painfully obvious.
Joe Biden is explicitly the latter in every respect.
He likes to say that fighting inflation is his top priority, but it’s hard to identify a major initiative of his that would be different if annual inflation were below 2% rather than above 8%.
He took office with a promise to spend $11 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl, and has spent as much of it as he can. When Congress didn’t agree, it spent hundreds of billions more by abusing its executive powers. The most significant allusion to inflation was to designate a tranche of this spending as the Inflation Reduction Act, as if the bill’s name were more important than its content.
Otherwise, Biden and his officials have relied on poor predictions, dubious math, and hasty celebrations to try to push them through.
In June 2021, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said inflation would rise “to around 3%” by the end of the year, but these were “temporary factors”.
A month later, Biden himself said the inflation was “temporary.” Of course, it was on course for 40-year highs.
It’s one thing to step up football in the end zone; It’s another, as Biden consistently does, to spike the football when he’s third in midfield and you’re repeatedly penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Last week he said inflation has averaged 2% on an annualized basis over the past three months, a new count designed to disguise that the real annualized rate was 8.2%.
This was reminiscent of his insistence that the inflation rate was 0% last July as inflation had been flat since June.
Similarly, he declared victory on gas prices when they had bounced back and presented himself as the scourge of the budget deficit despite his continued deficit spending.
At the end of the day, if Biden offers bad explanations for bad results, it doesn’t matter what he says. No presidential statement can compete with falling real wages and soaring food costs.
Voters appear to be arming themselves to manage the only appropriate response to such reckless mismanagement and the transparent rotation of a vital matter of their daily lives, which is to make their dissatisfaction in November’s elections unmistakable.
Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.