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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.

11 thoughts on “Republicans Attack Inflation With Magical Thinking

  1. I don't see how Ted Cruz could halt inflation.

    Nixon did. As did FDR. Trump and Biden? Not so much.

    • No, Nixon['s central banker] did not.  Neither did Ford's or Carter's — inflation continued to worsen throughout the 1970s.  Paul Volcker did, but at the price of converting the entire economy into a credit bubble totally dependent upon continuous stimulus.

      FDR's problem was deflation.

      The primary difficulty today is that there is no such thing as "the" economy.  Nationally, there are three: (A) trickle-down from Government procurement, which is the continuous stimulus needed to keep the credit bubble from collapsing; (B) manipulation of financial instruments; (C) what used to be called the "real" economy, which is dead beyond resurrection.  But everyone's experience is dominated by their local economy, which is not reflected in any aggregated statistics and which is not responsive to any national policy.

      • Yeah, I remember Nixon’s wage and price freeze. As you say, it was only a temporary fix, it didn’t solve the problem. And it was political poison even then.

      • Volcker was appointed by Carter in 1979, and re-nominated by Reagan in 1983.  IMO, Volcker's Big Squeeze isn't what killed the US' Real Economy; that was "achieved" by Reagan's Voodoo Economics and the associated GOP focus on killing Unions by moving Manufacturing to Mexico, then China.

  2. For every result (effect), our Reich-wingers have similar causes.

    Inflation?  'Cause of Biden.

    Russia invading Ukraine?  'Cause of Obama and Biden.

    Issues with minorities?  'Cause of LBJ, Carter, Clinton, Obama, and Biden.


  3. Thank you.  Yes, the rank-and-file Republican these days is pretty clueless.  I just got finished talking to one that is not as hopeless as most.  There is no way I would even broach a topic like inflation with him. He would be clueless. Near homeless and has but a weak idea about how to go forward.  He stated unequivocally that he will stay Republican, but I guess some magic is his plan B. He is a Vietnam era vet and as one would expect his political party to care for him, but they give him no plan but to spit on him one more time.  Still, he remains party loyal.  

    At 71 he is not going to change.  He might as well be the weakest person in the Donner party.  He is one of many of the same ilk.  As Thomas Frank wrote, we Kansans love to shoot ourselves in the foot.  Wonder why?  Do not ask we are all about to die.  Save a little spit for our graves.  

  4. Identify terms. Inflation: "a continuing rise in the general price level…"  

    Prices are going up. Back in the 70s, it was attributed to the "wage/price spiral." Unions were stronger and more successful in negotiating wages and benefits. Business and government blamed labor for increasing prices. The price hikes hit non-union families hardest because their income had not risen. Some of the price hikes may have been knee-jerk retaliation by big business to having to make wage concessions. Stats about the economy in the 70s aren't as easy to come by.

    Now there is evidence of price gouging by meatpacking monopolies. (Only four corporations control virtually all the midwest plants.) Their profits are up 300% since the start of the pandemic. Gas prices stay high despite the fall of global oil prices by the barrel. Oil profits are at the highest level in seven years.  I have seen (and not fact-checked) a host of claims – price increases by companies AFTER recording record profits. This is gouging – plain and simple.

    The "free economy" is supposed to protect us from this. IMO, monopolies and near-monopolies make price-gouging possible. We don't even pause at the way corporations gobble up other behemoths. There are corporations that do not produce ANYTHING except profits – they buy corporations that own corporations that eventually produce something. As I see it, business is exploiting the chaos of the moment to jack up prices and blame Covid and the Easter Bunny. 

    Solution: prove a conspiracy to fix prices anywhere and put some execs in jail. The guys wearing suits really don't like jail. Break up the monopolies. There are laws on the books to do this for the public good. 

    Problem: Democrats are as beholden to corporations and lobbyists as the GOP. Or have you noticed that the Trump tax cuts are intact, with hardly a whimper from Democrats in Congress?  Of course, there is a proposal that would empower government to take action – a ban on big money in politics. 

  5. Interesting detail on Beef prices; see link below, "2021 Beef Exports Shatter Previous Records".  Trump made a big deal out of "forcing" China to increase imports from USA, which sounds great (and prolly helped keep Farm States Republican).  China has plenty of $ to spend, and Big Ag is glad to sell to them.  It's Econ 1: when Demand goes up, Prices go up (until Supply catches up, if ever).

    But Dave is right (as usual); there are also big Monopoly effects.  All the excess value from the market changes (Asian demand) is being captured by a few Big Corps, not "trickling down" to the Farmers/Ranchers.  USA has had this problem forever, or at least since the expansion of Railroads in the late 1800's.  I agree with Dave – I'd love to see Farm State Democrats run against Big Ag.

    2021 Beef Exports Shatter Previous Records; Pork Export Value Also Reaches New High : U.S. Meat Export Federation (

  6. Is inflation a real problem or not. Well, for Turkey it is a real problem of late, and its Lira is not the currency you want to have in your bank account.  You could trade those Lira you had a year ago for about half the U.S. dollars you could have gotten last year about this time last year.  So too, the Euro, the Canadian Dollar, the British Pound and the Japanese Yen are all down compared to your "inflated" U.S. Dollar.  All countries had to print money (increase the money supply) due to COVID and production of goods decreased also due to COVID.  So naturally you have inflation as more money is chasing less goods.  

    The Federal Reserve is in the process of raising interest rates which tends to decrease the money supply and reduces inflationary pressures.  Let's hope they get it right.  Other World financial institutions are also in the process of making adjustments.  We can hope they too will help stay the course.  

    I am sure the Republican party's political hysteria will be another added problem we will need to overcome.  That is nothing new.  It does appear we are doing well relative to other countries and especially Turkey.  So how big a problem is it here really?  Not as bad as it is almost everywhere else in the world it appears. 

    Why is the Turkish lira crashing and what impact is the currency crisis having in Turkey? | Euronews

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