The Republicans Caused Inflation

The common wisdom is that Democrats will lose in the midterms because the party in power typically loses seats. Pundits predict a shellacking this year because of inflation. Americans vote their pocketbook, and our wallets are hurting because of prices at the gas pump and grocery store. So how do Democrats win in this environment?

Some think that the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade will turn the tide. Most Americans support a woman’s right to choose and are angry at an activist court taking away rights and liberties (and perhaps even more so because four Justices testified before the Senate and the American people that Roe was settled law). Kansas showed the way.

Democrats that run away from the economy, however, will do so at their own peril. Here is a two-part solution to push Republicans on to their back heels.

The first message is that the Republicans caused the inflation by bungling COVID, blocking immigration, starting a trade war, and stoking Russia’s war ambitions.

The Trump administration bungled the COVID response, that forced workers to work from home, stoking consumer demand and choking supply chains that could not keep up, driving prices up.

The Trump administration gutted immigration, tearing children from their parents, locking immigrants in chain-link pens, and preventing the seasonal migration that our farmers depend upon. The lack of labor has caused food prices to soar.

The Trump administration instigated a trade war against China, that has caused steel prices to soar, affecting the cost of everything beer cans to cars. The trade war created one of the sharpest increases in farm bankruptcies ever, driving up food prices even more.

The Trump administration encouraged Russia’s imperial ambitions to conquer Ukraine, the largest land war in Europe since World War II. Former President Trump tried to extort Ukraine’s President Zelensky to dig up dirt on his political opponent in return for White House access and arms. Trump was impeached as a result. In addition to its disdain for Ukraine, the Trump administration attacked longstanding allies like Germany, and institutions like NATO that have helped preserve peace in Europe since World War II, signaling to Russia that Western resolve to oppose Russian aggression was weak. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted energy and grain supplies, driving prices up at the gas pump, grocery store and your favorite local restaurants.

Republicans are responsible for today’s inflation.

The second message is how Democrats are responsible for a strong economic recovery while taking steps to address inflation. Under Biden, the economy has added 9 million jobs, and unemployment fell to 3.6%.

The economy has rebounded because the Biden administration quickly developed and implemented a COVID vaccination program, plans that the Trump administration had not developed when it left office. The vaccination program has vastly reduced severe disease and death, and allowed schools and local business to reopen, contributing to strong economic growth.

The Biden administration responded to the choked supply chains by leading bipartisan efforts for a national infrastructure bill. Though the bill can’t restore supply chains overnight, it will build for tomorrow.

The Biden administration is trying to unwind the damage from the Trump immigration policies. In addition, the House of Representatives has passed the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act that permits farmworkers — and their spouses and children — to earn legal status through continued employment in the agricultural sector. If passed by the Senate, it would boost migrant labor that would then lower food prices.

Biden is considering ending some of Trump’s tariffs on China. If he goes even further, by some estimates, lifting the tariffs will reduce inflation by 1.3%.

Lastly, the Biden administration must continue to make the case for U.S. support of Ukraine. Had the prior administration not bungled the Russia equation so badly we might not be in this position. The U.S., though, has a moral responsibility as the beacon of democracy to oppose Russia’s invasion, and a security imperative to dissuade further aggression in Europe. The current administration has led an impressive, even historic response, with our allies, imposing the most significant sanctions ever tried, while arming the Ukrainian resistance with the tools they need to repel Russian aggression. The war has caused price increases for gas and grain.

The Democrats have three months to reclaim the economic narrative. It will be hard to do because the voter blames the party in power when the pocket is pinched. There is, though, a strong and convincing story to tell that the democrats are the party of opportunity and prosperity, the party of ideas and action, and the party of all the people. Our nation will suffer deeply in lost liberty and lost wages should Trumpists retake control of Congress.

Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

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C. Dixon Osburn is a noted advocate for domestic and international human rights and security.

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C. Dixon Osburn

C. Dixon Osburn is a noted advocate for domestic and international human rights and security.