November 12, 2021


Editor's Note: With Thanksgiving approaching, we expect that many of you will be seeing family or friends who may not share your politics. We know how contentious political disagreements can be - and how hard it can be to speak up and ask a question - so we’ve put together a brief form where you can ask questions directly of our bipartisan team! During Thanksgiving week, we’ll do our best to come up with thoughtful answers.

Another jump in consumer prices in September sent inflation up 5.4% from where it was a year ago, matching the largest increase since 2008… The unexpected burst of inflation this year reflects sharply higher prices for food and energy, but also for furniture, cars, televisions, and other largely imported goods.” AP News

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From the Left

The left focuses on positive economic news and urges the Biden administration to take steps to reduce inflation.

There is a significant amount of economic good news right now. The labor market is tight—nearly three-quarters of adults think now is a good time to look for a job, per a recent Gallup survey—and the economy is growing at a rate estimated to be near 6 percent, a staggering figure compared to recent years, albeit one that is not particularly surprising, given the fact that we are still plowing out of the pandemic’s economic clutches. The unemployment rate sits at 4.6 percent. The stock market continues to soar…

“The economy is, in many ways, historically very good. It is also, in a couple of specific ways that people feel viscerally—rising costs and supply chain disruptions—not good at all. This is not an ideal environment for political messaging. Needles must be threaded: People do not like to be told that everything is hunky-dory when their gas prices have gone up by more than 50 percent in a calendar year and they’re worried about Christmas presents being delivered on time.”
Alex Shephard, New Republic

“Responsibility lies first with the Fed to project a message of both concern and stability. The central bank in the recent past had reoriented its policy toward promoting full employment rather than fighting inflation. Though the Fed has begun tapering the stimulative ‘quantitative easing’ program it introduced during the covid-19 downturn, at its current pace it would not end the program until June, with possible interest rate hikes to follow. Making clear that the bank could take stronger measures if high inflation persists would in itself depress inflationary expectations…

“President Biden could help by renominating Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell, clearing up questions about who will lead the central bank next year. Congress should also avoid doing anything to encourage inflationary fears. Democrats working on their Build Back Better spending bill should ensure that the bill is genuinely paid for — and not just with speculative estimates about how much more tax revenue could be brought in by adding capacity to the Internal Revenue Service.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“The president can’t really do anything about the price of milk or meat. His efforts to clear the supply-chain logjams at major ports will help, but not immediately. One of the few actions he can take unilaterally, and with great fanfare, is releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve… It would send mixed messages, to say the least, at a time when the Biden administration is trying to shift the nation and the world away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. But, sometimes, the urgent has to take precedence over the important.”
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

“There is little sign that fear of an impending green transition is the primary force shaping investment in the energy sector. Rather… today’s shortfalls in fossil-fuel investment and production derive from the geopolitical tensions and financial volatility that have long characterized the sector. Whatever the state of climate policy, investors in shale oil would want to recoup their 2014 losses this year, while OPEC and Russia would wish to press their present advantage. If we want a global energy system that is less vulnerable to the whims of Wall Street and petrostates, we need to accelerate the green transition, not back away from it.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right blames the Biden administration for the high inflation, particularly involving energy prices.

The right blames the Biden administration for the high inflation, particularly involving energy prices.

“There are plenty of things government can do to help, and most of them involve getting out of the way. We need more truck chassis, but current trade policy creates a combined tariff of over 200 percent on importing them. Labor policy designed in the early 20th century has allowed unions to entrench inefficiency and freeze labor productivity in the transportation sector…

“Environmental regulations in California have prevented the expansion of port capacity. The federal government has prioritized transitioning away from fossil fuels while begging OPEC to pump more oil. And post-pandemic spending bills both created disincentives to work and provided generous benefits…

“Build Back Better either leaves those problems untouched or exacerbates them… Now is not the time to take inflationary risks. Now is not the time to experiment with green-energy policies, which will drive up prices. Now is not the time to do a federal takeover of childcare, which will drive up prices. The United States has bountiful natural, industrial, and human resources. To fully mobilize them in response to the present inflationary pressures, government needs to step aside, not insert itself into more places.”
The Editors, National Review

A third of recent inflation increases has been propelled by energy prices, which have spiked 6.7 percent. Biden defenders such as Paul Krugman, who have no compunction blaming Republican governors for seasonal variances in the spread of viruses, contend that the president has no control over gas prices…

“Well, the first thing Biden did was freeze new oil and gas leases and shut down future pipelines. He now begs OPEC to increase production and help lower worldwide gas prices, but his domestic political goals and actions run contrary to this position. Virtually every ‘green’ plan in existence will intentionally, through mandates or bans or taxes or contrived ‘markets,’ make fossil fuels more expensive or reduce use. Expensive gas is their goal. So how can Democrats credibly maintain they have a plan to stop rising prices?”
David Harsanyi, New York Post

“Incredibly, in the midst of this energy shortage, the Biden administration is trying to cancel another pipeline, this one in the Midwest. The STL natural gas pipeline may be shut down. One of the largest utilities is warning that homeowners should ‘be prepared for potential natural gas disruptions — and outages — this winter if the pipeline is not kept in service.’ Prices could rise by 25 percent this winter because of the pipeline closure.”
Stephen Moore, New York Post

Regarding reports that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) wants to “pause” the Build Back Better bill, “I think Manchin has quietly wanted to tank the reconciliation bill for awhile but lacked a compelling enough reason and needed a last little bit of leverage over progressives to justify doing so. In the span of a week, both of those problems have resolved themselves…

“The bipartisan [infrastructure] bill is safely through the House and inflation is now a five-alarm policy fire. Lefties will be enraged if he walks away now but the political wisdom of doing so will be evident to everyone to the right of AOC. An economy that’s already overheated from trillions in federal spending doesn’t need more.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

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