Political Editors / June 23, 2022

In Brief: Purposefully Grinding Down the Middle Class

Which is worse — Team Biden aiming to hurt American families, or being too stupid to foresee obvious policy consequences?

“The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.” That quote is often attributed to Vladimir Lenin, as are many other sayings that are perhaps too convenient. Whether he said it or not, University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds says “it seems like a pretty good description of what the Biden administration is doing to America’s middle class.”

Inflation is running rampant. The Producer Price Index, the most useful measure of general inflation, is up a whopping 16.3% from April 2021, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That means that roughly $1 out of every $6 that people earn has been lost to inflation in a single year. Or to put it another way, 80 minutes’ earnings out of every eight-hour day have been eaten up.

Many of us warned this would be the all-too-predictable result of Biden’s spendthrift policies. The only reason inflation isn’t even worse still is that Joe Manchin had the decency to kill of Biden’s Build Back Better boondoggle.

President Biden dismissed inflation worries at the time, saying that Milton Friedman — the famed inflation-fighting economist — no longer runs the show. Well, the late economist certainly didn’t run Biden’s show, but his observation that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon was borne out in spades as prices took off.

And it was a double whammy. Inflation comes when you have too much money chasing too few goods. The spending part provided the excess money, but the Biden team was right there helping to ensure fewer goods, too.

Gas prices going up? Not only was Biden’s spending program stimulating inflation, but at the same time Biden policies were reducing the amount of gasoline, diesel and heating oil those dollars could buy. Biden went wild canceling pipelines, ending gas and oil leases, imposing stricter environmental rules and — in cooperation with big institutional investors — choking off the finances of people trying to produce new fuel supplies.

It’s all part of Biden’s fundamental transformation to a renewable energy utopia. The high prices are the agenda.

Even in Knoxville, where gas prices tend to be lower, I’ve paid more than $5 a gallon for gas. In other parts of the country, it’s selling for more than $7. Diesel — needed to move goods whose prices are already going up because of inflation — is even more expensive, adding costs to everything in what’s left of our supply-chain network. And there’s no relief in sight.

After recounting predictions of $6 gas by August, the various effects of the war in Ukraine, and the baby formula shortage as examples, Reynolds goes on to conclude:

So does the Biden administration actually want to see middle-class Americans reduced to poverty and privation? Or is it just too stupid to foresee the obvious consequences of its own actions? At this point, I’m not even sure which is worse.

But with the midterms coming, no amount of talk about gun control, abortion or other Democratic hot-button issues is going to distract Americans from what’s happening to their pocketbooks. Good.

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