The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Republicans Attack Inflation With Magical Thinking

One of the abiding characteristics of righties is that they don’t know how anything works. They blame high gas prices on President Biden, for example. They never did grasp what covid is or how it spread or why masks have been recommended or why getting vaccinated is a good idea. They don’t understand why broken supply chains are causing shortages and higher prices. I have no idea what percentage of them could define “supply chain.”

A couple of days ago, Paul Waldman described the Ohio Republican Senate candidates’ fantastic promises to, among other things, end inflation. For example, Ted Cruz made a television ad for Josh Mandel in which he said “Want to stop Biden’s inflation? Send someone who’s done it before.” Mandel has never in his life stopped inflation anywhere, mind you.  Paul Waldman continues,

Cruz then closes with a repeat of the claim: “End Biden’s inflation? Send Josh Mandel to Washington.”

Of all the over-the-top claims we’ve seen in campaign ads so far this year, this might be the most preposterous. Are we supposed to believe a single freshman senator is going to “end” inflation in America?

Is one backbench senator going to repair global supply chains, accelerate production of computer chips, reduce demand for consumer goods, increase the supply of construction materials and bring down international shipping costs?

And if one senator is capable of all that, how come Cruz himself hasn’t done it, with all the majestic powers of his office? Is he just waiting for Mandel to get elected so he can take care of it?

The entire federal government has limited options for addressing these issues in the short term, especially since many of the supply chains originate in other countries. Most of the supply problems are the result of many private business decisions that resulted in all of us being way too dependent on a few foreign suppliers for too many essential products or parts. This is the fruit of free market capitalism, in other words.

I was in a grocery store today and overheard a fellow complain about the price of beef. Does he know that only four meatpackers control the U.S. beef industry? The CEOs of those four companies recently agreed to testify to the House Agriculture Committee why consumer prices keep going up while cattle growers’ profits keep going down. I’m looking forward to that.

Oh, and avian flu is causing egg prices to go up. Shit does happen.

Another Ohio Senate candidate, Jane Timken, has released an ad promising to “stop Biden’s socialist agenda and runaway inflation.” Yeah, righties don’t know what socialism is. But how does she plan to end runaway inflation? By balancing the budget. Hello? Federal deficit spending is not a cause of inflation.

And Republicans don’t balance budgets. The last Republican to balance the federal budget was Dwight Eisenhower. He accomplished that in part by not cutting taxes. This was when the top marginal tax rate was 90 percent. You know that as soon as Republicans take over the federal government again they’ll cut the top tax rates again, and the deficit will grow. That’s what always happens when Republicans are in charge of the budget. From Ford onward every administration has had a budget deficit in excess of 2 percent of GDP, with the exception of Bill Clinton, who really did balance the budget. Then George W. Bush was handed a balanced budget, so he promptly cut taxes and got us into a stupid war that was mostly funded off the books with emergency wartime supplemental appropriations so that the cost wouldn’t show up in the official budget and upset people. But I digress.

Back to Paul Waldman:

Another candidate, Matt Dolan, tells a lie about Biden — that he “banned oil exploration” on his first day as president — and says that’s the cause of all our inflation. Dolan vows to solve inflation by fighting Biden’s “energy agenda.”

Do these people grasp what the word “inflation” means?

Of course, in 2016 Donald Trump made all kinds of promises that any sensible person knew he couldn’t possibly keep, and he didn’t, yet he doesn’t seem to have paid a price for his incompetence with his devoted base. I’m not sure that righties actually grasp cause and effect.