Why Biden Won’t Be Successful On Inflation?


President Jimmy Carter had issues in summer 1979. A year earlier, Americans were spending more on gasoline and food, and Carter had to choose between telling them the government could help or encouraging them to tighten their belts and suffer. It was obvious. But prices rose, and Carter lost to Reagan in 1980.

Things aren’t as bad as in 1979, but many may empathize. The latest CPI1 figures show prices climbed 6.9% year on year in November, the most since 1982. And President Biden’s net approval rating is -7.6%, which is approaching a historic low. 2 Biden has promised to “relieve bottlenecks” and release strategic oil reserves to counteract growing prices, but the road ahead is rocky.


Inflation affects politics. Costs are rising, and Americans are concerned. In such a case, Biden has a difficult task. A country that views inflation through a political lens will be critical of his accomplishment. Like Carter, he may overlook inflation. But if Biden overreacts, the cure may be worse than the disease.

Inflation is a president’s nightmare.

Inflation is an American quirk. The average consumer feels price increases more than the government deficit. Also, political memory: It triggered four recessions and irrevocably transformed our politics from 1969 to 1982.

Today’s inflation is hard to see. The outbreak shifted the economy, and many observers blamed the recovery for the price surge. The pandemic-induced delay, according to Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, helps explain recent price increases.

“A significant slowdown, but not a recession,” Goolsbee said. Recessions usually start with long-lived goods like cars and homes. And they increased throughout the downturn.”

However, even a return to normality by summer would “give heartburn” to the Biden administration, Goolsbee concedes. As seen in the graph below, high inflation has been associated with low presidential approval since 1960. Biden’s approval rating is plummeting.

Evidence demonstrates that a president’s popularity may be affected by inflation. Researchers found that inflation surprises damaged incumbent parties in 1999. A 2010 survey revealed that inflation harmed Americans’ perceptions of Obama. According to a 2013 report, growing inflation “deteriorated presidential popularity” in the US, along with the budget deficit and unemployment.

Concerning inflation, certain things are just more vital. Let’s examine According to 2016 research, rising gas prices damage presidential support since they are constantly reminded. High gas costs, according to Haverford College economist Carola Binder.

“You literally see fuel prices and tremendous numbers,” Binder said. “The original price was $2 last week and it’s now $3.” Binder disagrees.

Formerly inflationary Americans resent increased gas prices. Based on their research, Americans who lived through the 1970s oil shocks were more pessimistic about rising gas prices. Were it not for the late 1970s, they would be bankrupt now.

The American people are feeling the strain. Price rises have caused “moderate” or “severe” financial hardship for 46% of households, and 56% of voters, according to November Gallup polls. According to a Gallup poll, 7 in 10 respondents from low-income households said the pandemic was bothering them.

While inflation is a serious concern for Americans, its influence on presidential popularity is overblown. Example: George W. Bush’s popularity dropped amid the Great Recession. Other major geopolitical and domestic concerns threatened Carter’s reelection. When inflation is low, Americans worry. Now, rising prices seem to be affecting many Americans.

How Americans see inflation is political.

However, perspectives differ. Inflation predictions vary depending on the president’s political affiliation. That’s in line with how Americans see the economy based on who governs.

You are more optimistic about the economy and forecast lower inflation when your party’s president is in power, Binder says. Expectations of inflation surge when an unpopular president is in office.

Unsurprisingly, Americans expect lower inflation when their party controls the White House. Obama’s administration saw red states expect more inflation than blue states, but that flipped under Trump.

This is an old trend. In the 1980s, when inflation plummeted over 10 points under Reagan, more than half of “strong” Democrats believed it got worse, while fewer than 8% said it got better (13 % and 47 %). Unsurprisingly, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say inflation had grown during the previous eight years.

Contrary to expectations, Republicans are more concerned about the economy — and inflation — than Democrats, a disparity that seems to be expanding.

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This may be a disaster.

Initial impression: depressing. It erodes purchasing power and monetary value. Americans may demand higher wages from businesses to battle inflation, causing firms to raise prices, causing even more inflation.

Problem is, we’ve often been too quick to impede a recovering economy.

A professor of political science at Boston College, Jonathan Kirshner, says we only talk about inflation when it’s high. Aiming for inflation chooses winners and losers in the economy. Even when inflation is low, Kirshner argues, the politics of inflation policy remain.

Moreover, several anti-inflation measures, especially when high, have backfired. Consider the Carter administration’s 1980s anti-inflation measures. First, the country suffered a severe recession that cost millions of jobs. Contractors and workers even sent 2x4s to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, citing a lack of demand. The implications of inflation went beyond Carter. Reagan’s popularity sank even while inflation was tamed.

Other modern difficulties to severe anti-inflation strategies include a slow economic recovery. Kirshner referenced the 1930s double-dip recession as an example. While inflation hasn’t reached 1970s levels, we may be reversing course too soon, like in the 1930s and 2010.

Notably missing are most other economic indicators that characterized the ’70s “stagflation”. Several indices suggest a robust US economic recovery: In a non-pandemic climate, households have saved more than expected (though some research suggests that savings are dropping).

So Biden is in a pickle. It is important to address valid concerns about an overheating economy without ignoring price stability. While a Democrat is in power, around half of Americans will regard the economy unfavorably, challenging Biden’s plan. What’s good for the economy may not be good for his political career.

“People like me feel you should let this inflationary wave pass,” Kirshner added. Is it logical? It’s horrible policy. In today’s political atmosphere, you will be condemned for any unpopular decision.”