One of my favorite episodes of The West Wing is entitled “Celestial Navigation.” It aired on February 16, 2000, and included a hilarious scene in which fictitious White House deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (portrayed by actor Bradley Whitford) fumbled through a press briefing after the primary presidential spokesperson underwent a dental procedure.
What began as an innocent joke wound up as a much-ballyhooed “secret plan to fight inflation.”
Take a look …
(Click to view)
Two decades later, the administration of U.S. president Joe Biden is dealing with runaway inflation – for which it does not appear to have a plan (secret or otherwise).
To recap, inflation is a reduction in the purchasing power – or the value – of money. It occurs when rising prices outpace the growth of wages, or when governments spend too much borrowed money. Or when they print too much money to try and paper over their massive debt.
Both of which America has done/ is doing …
Anyway, earlier today the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued updated consumer price index (CPI) information showing yet another historic spike in inflation. According to the latest data (.pdf), CPI soared 0.6 percent during the month of January – sending the year-over-year increase to 7.5 percent.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the largest year-over-year increase since February 1982.
Forty years ago …
Here is a look at inflation under Biden …
(Click to view)
The second line, incidentally, is so-called “core” inflation – which excludes volatile categories like gasoline and food. This metric also climbed by 0.6 percent and is now 6 percent higher than it was a year ago, according to DOL, the biggest year-over-year jump since August 1982.
Biden’s response to all this? Astoundingly, he wants the secretive Federal Reserve bank to slow economic growth in the hopes of reigning in the price hikes.
“President Biden’s plan starts with respecting the Federal Reserve’s independence to keep elevated price increases from becoming entrenched,” a White House fact sheet noted. “The Federal Reserve provided extraordinary support during the crisis. Given the strength of our recovery, and the pace of recent price increases, it is appropriate for them to recalibrate that support.”
Wait … what?
“Biden is basically telling (the Fed) to start a recession to undo the consequences of his idiotic fiscal policies,” noted the website Zero Hedge.
As I have previously noted, inflation is not necessarily a bad thing. Higher incomes have to be created from someplace … and if the price of goods and services remains stagnant, then the paychecks of the workers producing those goods and providing those services is likely to remain stagnant as well.
Generally speaking, the optimum rate of inflation is around two percent.
For much of the administration of former president Barack Obama, inflation came in below this optimal level. The annual rate of inflation for 2016 averaged just 1.26 percent, while in 2015 it clocked in at a meager 0.12 percent. The two percent threshold was also missed in 2014 (1.62 percent) and 2013 (1.47 percent).
Under former president Donald Trump, CPI hit its targets in 2017 (2.1 percent) and 2018 (2.4 percent) but dipped just below the target rate in 2019 (1.8 percent). Last year, inflation registered just 1.2 percent thanks in large part to the Covid-19 shutdown.
Under Biden, inflation is more than three times its optimum level … which is no doubt one of the reasons his poll numbers are tanking.
THE DATA …cpi
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats – including that retro Atlanta Braves’ lid pictured above (worn upon request).
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