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Vulnerable Democrats: Gosh, We Are Very Concerned About the Inflation We've Fueled With Our Votes

Ken Cedeno/Pool via AP, File

I had to chuckle at the headline below from CNN, which describes the panic setting in among vulnerable Democrats over rampant inflation.  They're right to be very concerned.  It's the top issue in the country, it's affecting literally everyone (with the exception of the uber-wealthy, who are increasingly a core Democratic constituency), and brand new surveys from both Fox and CNN show President Biden's approval on handling inflation cratering into the 20's.  Any incumbent from the ruling party who represents an even remotely competitive state or district would be nuts not to be worried about its impact.  There's a reason why House Republicans appear to be expanding the map ahead of the cycle's final stretch.  

Still, it's pretty rich to witness this sort of hand-wringing:

In Phoenix, Arizona -- a state where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is facing one of the toughest reelection races this fall -- the cost of goods rose a whopping 12.3% from June 2021 to June 2022, according to the Labor Department. That's over three points higher than the national average, which hit 9.1%. Meanwhile, in the Atlanta metro area -- which is represented by vulnerable Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock -- costs climbed 11.5% over the same 12-month period. The latest inflation numbers, particularly in key swing states that could determine control of the Senate, brought into focus the deepening political problems for President Joe Biden and his party, and explain why vulnerable Democrats have publicly rung the alarm about the issue. Democrats desperate to retain control of Congress are now pleading with the administration and their party leadership to help them more forcefully combat rising prices -- and, in the process, hang on to their seats...Some Democrats are starting to point the finger at one another. New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, a vulnerable Democrat, criticized the Biden administration's handling of inflation, telling CNN: "I have said for a while that I thought he and the administration have been too slow to react to it."

All three of the Democratic Senators pictured in the tweet -- and cited in my excerpt from the story -- are frantic over a crisis to which they've directly contributed. The sources of decades-high levels of inflation are myriad and complex. It's over-simplifying matters to just say, "Democrats did this." There are multiple factors beyond the control of any American president or political party. However. It is undeniable that Biden and the Democrats have made matters worse with their policies. Inflation is worse in the US than in most of the developed world for a reason. Setting aside the Democrats' war on domestic fossil fuels, which is certainly not helping with bruising energy costs, we've noted before that even some prominent Democratic economists have blasted the so-called 'American Rescue Plan' as wasteful and inflationary.  Former Obama Treasury Secretary Larry Summers called the nearly $2 trillion spending binge "the least responsible macroeconomic policy we’ve had in the last 40 years."  Another senior Obama economic advisor, Steven Rattner, described the bill as Democrats' "original sin" on inflation that will "will go down in history as an extraordinary policy mistake."

Again, those are assessments from well-known Democrats.  They're not (correct) talking points from conservative economists or Congressional Republicans.  And guess who voted for that reckless spending package that fueled inflation?  Senators Mark Kelly, Maggie Hassan and Raphael Warnock.  In fact, every single Democrat in Congress, except one, voted for that bill.  Even Joe Manchin was on board for that mess.  What's even more damning is that every House Democrat (with the same lone hold-out) also voted in favor of Biden's 'Build Back Better' scheme late last year, a nearly $5 trillion tank of gasoline that would have made the current inflation conflagration look like a minor blaze.  Inflation was already a clear and present danger by that point, and they all voted it through anyway.  Kelly, Hassan and Warnock -- plus every Senate Democrat, minus Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema -- supported the insane BBB policy.  They are reflective, lockstep, rubber-stamp votes for Biden, Schumer and Pelosi.  And they all backed roughly $7 trillion in new spending, on top of the trillions in bipartisan emergency pandemic spending.  They have no right to complain about high inflation.  They fueled it.  And if they'd gotten their way, it would be much worse.  They don't want to live with the consequences of their actions.  Voters will decide whether they're held to account in November.  I also got a chuckle out of this Washington Post opinion piece:

The mainstream media has played a huge, underappreciated role in President Biden’s declining support over the past year. Its flawed coverage model of politics and government is bad for more than just Biden — it results in a distorted national discourse that weakens our democracy. The media needs to find a different way to cover Washington...One of the sharpest dips in Biden’s approval rating — which has dropped from 55 percent in January 2021 to less than 39 percent today — happened last August, when it declined almost five points in a single month. There wasn’t a huge surge in gas prices, nor some big legislative failure. What caused Biden’s dip was the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan — or, rather, the media’s 24/7, highly negative coverage of it...Biden’s poll numbers plunged, closely tracking the media hysteria. As The Post’s Dana Milbank wrote in December, data analysis showed a marked increase in negativity in media coverage of Biden that started last August...In my view, media coverage is a big factor in those warped polling results...Yes, I am calling for the media to cover Biden more positively...It’s too early to say whether Biden is a great or even good president. But most Americans aren’t getting a fair look at that question. Instead of telling us whether Biden is effective, the media has focused on showing that it is not too biased toward Democrats. Better that journalists actually cover America’s problems and whether Biden is solving them — or at least has better policies than the Republicans. That’s the kind of journalism we need.

"Can't believe the media tricked people into thinking things have gone poorly over the past year," deadpans one GOP operative.  The op/ed includes some requisite "to be sure" caveats about Biden being imperfect, but its basic premise is laughable.  Joe Biden is not unpopular because the media has been too negative toward him.  His coverage has been fairly critical at times, but it's child's play compared to the nonstop onslaught of hostility faced by Republicans on a daily basis -- and the last Republican president, in particular.  Joe Biden is unpopular because of bad outcomes in the country, across multiple fronts, that people are experiencing in their lives and seeing with their eyes.  The solution is not to propagandize even harder on his behalf, which is what the piece explicitly calls for.  I'll leave you with some foolish and misplaced football-spiking from the desperate Biden brain trust:

Should we be thanking...Putin for this?  That's the person they always mention in this context, no?  And what happens if and when gas prices shoot back up in the fall, as some experts are warning may be the case?  Back to Putin's fault, I suppose.  Regardless, all the feeble spin hasn't been working:


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