When you make a mistake in life, most people know the best way to correct it is to first own it. Admit it. Nobody's perfect. It's OK. Then after admitting the error of your ways, you can correct it. On the other hand, when you keep making mistakes and you don't own up to it and you keep repeating the same bad behavior with very bad consequences, you're never going to fix it. Some call that insanity, making the same mistake over and over.
One person who has never learned this life lesson is Joe Biden who, in his inflation speech today, continued to play the Biden blame game, whitewashing not only the inflation problem, but also his administration's failure to effectively deal with it.
JOE BIDEN: The first cause of inflation is a once in a century pandemic. A second cause: Mr. Putin's war in Ukraine. Republicans love to attack me as a big spender, as if that's the reason why inflation's gone up.
Once upon a time, as in two years ago, during the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised different behavior. He was going to take responsibility. Take a listen:
JOE BIDEN: The one thing I promise you I'll do, I'll take responsibility. When I make a mistake, I'll say it. I'll acknowledge it and fix it.
So here we are in the spring of 2022 and Mr. Biden is singing a different tune.
The causes of inflation included Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, the pandemic, price-gouging by poultry companies, excess profits by energy companies, rich people, something called "ultra-MAGA," something called the "Congressional Republican Plan" and Sen. Rick Scott. The only person he missed was the man on the moon. By the way, we will have Sen. Rick Scott on the show in a little while to answer Biden's attack.
Then, of course, President Biden said "don't blame his own spending." Right? Nah. Wouldn't think of it. $2 trillion in March of '21, which generated a huge inflation that Mr. Biden today denies. Madam Psaki argued yesterday that nobody predicted high inflation a year ago, but, in fact, a number of Democratic economists predicted it and have continued to predict high inflation. Take a listen to one of them:
LARRY SUMMERS: I think there’s a real possibility that within the year we are going to be dealing with the most serious incipient inflation problem that we have faced in the last 40 years.
Of course, a number of conservative economists made the same forecast and a recent Fox Poll shows President Biden totally underwater, 28% to 67% approval-disapproval on inflation.
There was no need for that $2 trillion package over a year ago, as the Trump V-shaped recovery was in full force and frankly, Mr. Biden continues to campaign for inflationary spending, as he did today, calling for more subsidies, childcare, healthcare, Obamacare, housing and of course green energy. What would a presidential speech be like without more money for the Green New Deal?
He's still pushing for some version of his "Build Back Better." The latest CBO price out was $5 trillion, with $3 trillion of new federal debt. A Biden spokesperson today said that BBB was completely paid for, thereby causing sane people to gasp at the sound of that one.
There's never been any evidence or official government charges of price-gouging. No one knows what "excess profits" means. Corporate tax revenues are coming in hand-over-fist at record rates as the highly successful Trump tax cuts completely pay for themselves. Then, after accusing Republicans of wanting to raise taxes, Mr. Biden reminds us of his own proposal of 36 tax hikes, including 11 on fossil fuels, for a total of $2.5 trillion, which would surely push a shaky economy into a sizable recession.
Really, I think common sense people would embrace a Biden program that would stop the spending and energy policies, which really are the root causes of inflation. Deregulate these off-the-wall, progressive, environmental restrictions, reopen permitting for oil, gas and pipelines.
By the way, a reopening of this crazy radical NEPA permitting restrictions would also allow for highway, road and bridge infrastructure and even Green New Deal projects like wind turbines, solar, electric charging stations and the like, but Mr. Biden's not going there. He just won't do it. He won't recognize the inflationary problems his policies have caused, even while commonsense people of all political stripes see it clearly.
Tellingly, one of his spokespeople argued that the energy crisis was Vladimir Putin's fault, citing Jan. 17, 2022, when Putin put Russian troops in Belarus to threaten invasion.
Gasoline prices according to this person were $3.31, and he argued that today's $4.37 is a function of Putin. OK, but what about the prior year? In January 2021, gasoline prices were $2.46. How'd they get from there to $3.31 — a 35% jump? Energy supply shortages, caused by Biden's jihad against fossil fuels.
Same with oil. $52 a barrel in January 2021; $83 a barrel on Biden's Jan. 17 date — up 60%. How'd that happen?
Average folks have never even heard of Vladimir Putin or the idea that Putin caused energy prices to go up and energy prices caused food prices to go up. So, it's all Putin's fault. So, wait a minute. Let’s take food and energy out of the CPI.
That's silly, because food and energy are what middle-class people buy, but fine. I'll play their game. That leaves the so-called core inflation rate. Guess what? On a 12-month basis, core inflation was 1.8% in January 2021 and is now 6.5%. That's triple the Fed's inflation target of 2%. How'd that happen? I just took Putin out of play.
Well, the answer is that excessive federal spending, borrowing and money-printing have caused virtually all prices to rise, throughout the consumer price index. It's not just single prices and it's not even just single global dictators, and because price hikes are so widespread, middle-class folks are paying about a $5,000 per year inflation tax, but whatever you do, just don't blame Joe Biden.
This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow's opening commentary on the May 10, 2022, edition of "Kudlow."