If you watched the Republican response to President Biden's State-of-the-Union address or if you've tuned in to one of the clown show hearings Republicans are holding in the House (talk about wasting taxpayers' money), you would think America is going to hell in a handbasket. So much for the save the union party of Abraham Lincoln or the sunny optimism and better days ahead party of Ronald Reagan. Today's Republican Party is a party animated by hate, fear, and dread. It's a party that's embraced fascism, racism, antisemitism, and misogyny. America is better than the extremists who've hijacked the Republican Party.
In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans pounded on anything negative they could concoct to pander to their grievance-driven base. Part and parcel of that doom and gloom pitch was inflation and the notion that President Biden and Democrats are making life worse. Listen, I live in the real world and I don't like paying high prices any more than you do, but I'm also grounded in reality and I'm not willing to get led around by the nose by baseless conspiracy theorists who profit off of misleading the gullible who are willing to blindly swallow their noxious bullsh*t.
So, let me make a couple of points.
First, if you think Joe Biden is so powerful that he alone caused inflation, then I've got some Trump steaks in the freezer I'll let you have for ten thousand dollars ... each. Inflation is a global issue and there's no single cause. The whole world was impacted by COVID and, while COVID hasn't been eradicated, we have adapted to a new normal. After a long period of virtual hibernation, people are working and buying again. Putin chose to start a war in Ukraine -- with at least tacit approval by some Republicans and conservative commentators -- and disrupted stability in oil and gas markets. Rather than help, our "friends" in Saudi Arabia decided to be unhelpful. Some say that's to hurt President Biden who's not as cozy with them as the last administration. And oil companies capitalized and jacked up prices, with all of them earning record profits this year. Instead of investing their windfall in increased capacity and alternative energy development, they used the money they gouged from consumers to buy back their own stock and heap lavish rewards on their executives. Yes, excess inflation is bad, but it's a global issue, not one limited to one country and due to one president. By comparison, the U.S. has navigated the inflationary currents pretty well ... just ask the British.
Second, while those who find glee in grievance are happy to paint a dire picture in their effort to undermine President Biden, the American economy isn't doing all that bad. Economist Steve Rattner was on Morning Joe on Friday, and he provided some notable insights that bear repeating. Recent headlines touted the fact that at 3.4 percent, unemployment is at a low we haven't seen since 1969. As Steve Rattner showed, employment rebounded from this most recent recession quickly and now there are more Americans working than there were before the pandemic.
Additionally, not only are more Americans working, but they're earning more. Rattner said that adjusted for inflation, Americans are earning 2.6 percent more now than they earned prior to the pandemic. And earnings growth has been the strongest for those in the bottom half of the economic pyramid. Those in the bottom 25 percent have seen their inflation adjusted earnings rise at more than four times (11.3 percent) the rate for Americans as a whole (2.6 percent). Employers in the service industry -- restaurants in particular -- have had a hard time attracting and retaining workers prompting many to ask, "where did they go?" It seems many used the pandemic pause to reassess and to seek higher paying jobs when they returned to the workforce.
The trick is going to be continuing to work to tame inflation while continuing to work to foster jobs and wage growth. Everyone wants to earn more, but if everyone earns more then most everyone spends more, which normally makes prices rise and causes inflation. Some level of inflation is inevitable, but as long as its not excessive it's not necessarily a bad thing. When I got my first job working at Lowes Hardware back in the seventies, I used to buy two dollars of gas per week back when gas was twenty-five cents a gallon and they pumped it for you, checked your oil, and washed your windshield. I can't buy a gallon of gas for a quarter anymore (and I have to pump it myself), but I enjoy a better standard of living because my earnings went up over the years even more. Striking the right balance will be no easy task, but the data show that so far, America is on the right track and moving in the right direction.
For those who rely on true facts rather than false feelings, Americans and the American economy are doing okay, and that's a story Republicans want you to ignore. Republicans want you to believe the sky is falling ... it's not. To that I say, "You go, Dark Brandon!"