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Tipsheet

ICYMI: NBC News Wasn't the Only One to Go After Biden's Failures

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Last week, as Townhall covered at length, NBC News went after President Joe Biden for his low approval ratings, and went after him hard. "Inside a Biden White House adrift," was the piece's headline, as it highlighted how "rattled" the president is. It was quite the deep dive effort, with four different writers and two additional contributors. That wasn't the only hit piece from a mainstream media outlet, it turned out. As I also highlighted last week, POLITICO mocked Biden's response on inflation. At least two other sites went after Biden as well, including The Washington Post and CNN.

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On May 31, the same day as that NBC News report went out, The Washington Post published "White House scrambles on inflation after Biden complains to aides" by Tyler Pager and Jeff Stein. 

The particularly long piece spend much time pointing out Biden's frustrations and even criticizing this White House's response:

The flurry of activity comes after Biden has privately grumbled to top White House officials over the administration’s handling of inflation, expressing frustration over the past several months that aides were not doing enough to confront the problem directly, two people familiar with the president’s comments said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

The flurry of moves reflects a new urgency within the White House as it grapples with the growing likelihood that high inflation will extend through the midterm elections, eclipsing Biden’s agenda and undermining his ability to tout his accomplishments — and that there may be little Biden can do about it.

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The White House has also stressed all the ways the American economy is quickly rebounding, as the unemployment rate plummets and gross domestic product surges. But that, too, is a tricky message, as the administration tries to simultaneously celebrate a booming economy and acknowledge that people are suffering.

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The White House messaging has also been inconsistent in part because its attention has been seized by such powerful events as Russia’s aggression and a pair of horrific gun massacres. Yet unrelenting inflation threatens to undermine a central part of Biden’s political identity — that he knows and understands the problems of working-class Americans.

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The piece's focus, as the title suggests, also focuses considerably on inflation:

A Washington Post-ABC News poll in early May found that more than 9 in 10 Americans are concerned, at a minimum, about the rate of inflation, which has been at a 40-year high for months. That included 44 percent who say they are “upset” about the problem.

In what might be worse for the president and his party, 68 percent said they disapprove of Biden’s handling of inflation, compared with 28 percent who approve.

The White House has grappled unevenly with how to respond to this threat since it emerged last summer. The administration initially downplayed the extent of the problem, inaccurately saying it would prove “temporary.”

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The White House has taken some actions to alleviate inflation, including a large release from the nation’s oil reserves and waiving ethanol rules to generate more fuel supply. Those steps do not appear to have materially altered the trajectory of high prices.

But much of the response has been rhetorical. Biden has taken to calling the rising cost of fuel “Putin’s price hike,” for example, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the strain on gas prices from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“It seems like they’ve given up doing anything and have settled into figuring out what the best thing to say is,” said one person in close communication with senior White House economists, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations. “There’s almost more debate about the right narrative than the right policy stance.”

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The piece also goes into the specifics of how Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Larry Summers, who held the position during the Clinton administration, had addressed inflation. Yellen, as Katie highlighted last week, acknowledged she "was wrong then about the path that inflation would take." 

The Biden administration seems to be the only one caught unaware when it comes to how bad inflation would be, and how much the American people would suffer, especially since this administration is willing to blame anyone and everyone but Biden

The poll mentioned in the WaPo report certainly gives Biden devastating marks on inflation, but it's not the only one. Far from it. And it's crucial to highlight how this is a top issue for so many voters, as Democratic strategists also admit

Summers was one of those who warned the administration about inflation, including and especially when it came to passing the American Rescue Plan Act in March of last year. He also spoke to WaPo about the issue:

Some critics of the White House’s economic management, such as former treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers, praised Biden for refraining in the Fed’s affairs. But it remains unclear whether the central bank has the latitude to tame inflation without causing a recession, and if that were to occur, it could prove an even worse headache for the Biden administration.

“I don’t think there’s a durable reduction in inflation without a meaningful reduction in wage growth,” Summers told The Washington Post on Tuesday. “When inflation’s been above four percent and unemployment’s been below four percent, we’ve always had a recession within the next two years.”

He added, “I think the likelihood is that we’re not going to get through this with a soft landing. … Given where we have been, it is going to be very difficult to get through this.”

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Summers was right, yet the administration gaslit him anyway. 

While the Biden administration may just now be trying to move ahead with a proper response on handling inflation and the economy, they're still handling it quite poorly. And, Democrats are still likely headed for disastrous midterm elections, to put it politely.

Things continue to go worse for Biden, including and especially in the polls. As Leah and I have highlighted, Biden is none too pleased to be facing lower approval ratings than his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

Speculation abounds that Trump will run again, which has fueled Biden's desire to run for re-election in a re-mach of 2020. 

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