President Joe Biden plunged himself back into the spotlight of public dismay with the economy on Monday, repeating his charge that businesses “price gouging” is to blame for the high inflation that has battered the U.S. economy for thirty months and soured the public on his administration’s policies.
In remarks intended to bolster long-sagging public approval of his economic policies, Biden insisted that businesses were “price gouging” if they have not brought down their prices as the inflation rate has declined.
“Any corporation that has not brought their prices back down, even as inflation has come down, even as the supply chains have been rebuilt, it’s time to stop the price gouging,” Biden said at the launch of a new White House supply chain initiative. “Give the American consumer a break.”
Falling inflation means that the rate of price increases is slowing, not that prices are falling from higher levels. Falling prices is referred to as deflation. Biden’s comments confused the two concepts.
The consumer price index, the Department of Labor’s official gauge of consumer inflation, is up nearly 17 percent since Biden took office, around three times as much as during the same period of Donald Trump’s presidency. Biden and his economic advisers initially downplayed the risks of high inflation, ignoring the warnings of prominent Democrat-aligned economists that the administration’s huge spending bills would overwhelm the economy and drive up prices.
When the reality of inflation became too clear for the administration’s rhetoric to ignore, Biden and other administration officials insisted that it would quickly pass. Federal Reserve officials, including chairman Jerome Powell, also incorrectly insisted inflation would prove transitory.
Monday’s remarks were the latest shift in Biden’s constantly evolving strategy to convince Americans that they are wrong to judge his economic policies so harshly. A recent poll by Bloomberg and Morning Consult found that only 35 percent of voters in seven swing states trust Biden on the economy. Fifty-one percent said the economy was better under Trump.
The administration had been trying to tout what it claims are its economic achievements by branding them as “Bidenonomics.” That strategy seems to have failed dramatically. Biden’s approval rating is at its lowest since April, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. A November poll by the Economist and YouGov found that 50 percent of the public disapprove of Biden’s handling of jobs and the economy and 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the issue of inflation. A striking 43 percent say they strongly disapprove of Biden’s inflation work.