Remember Annemiek van Vleuten, the Dutch cyclist who celebrated at the Tokyo Olympics as if she’d won a gold medal only to find out she’d finished in second place? President Joe Biden’s speech in the East Room at the White House on Wednesday felt a little bit like that.
According to CNN, Biden touted his recent infrastructure wins in the Senate, an economic report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that finally shows the kind of jobs growth that had been expected for months and inflation reports he said vindicated his economic policies.
Today, I’m pleased to share more good news with the American people: The latest report on consumer price shows — prices show that we’ve expanded some easing — excuse me, the expected easing we thought was going to come has increased — that we are — we’ve seen a good monthly report,” Biden said, according to a White House transcript of the event.
“The monthly core consumer price index is down by nearly two-thirds from its pace over the past three months.
“And when you take out the goods directly impacted by the pandemic, like cars and airplane tickets and month — the monthly core consumer price index has — is less than two-tenths of 1 percent. “
Yes, and if you take the Wall Street crash of 1929 out of the equation, the Roaring Twenties represented an unblemished run for the stock market. What Biden was really saying was inflation numbers were flat compared with June — which still meant a 5.4 percent increase in prices over last year, according to CNN. If you look at the numbers without volatile food and energy prices, there was 4.3 percent spike, which was slightly lower than June’s number.
“Jobs are up, and monthly price increases have come down. Economic growth is up to the fastest in 40 years, and unemployment is coming down,” Biden said, according to the transcript.
“So, I was — argued our — the Biden economic plan is working. And historic investments are on the way as well.
“This isn’t accidental. It is the result of our strategy to get shots in arms, grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. And it’s the rest of the — the result of the American Rescue Plan and everything else that we’ve done. And it’s a result of the grit and determination and really hard work of the American people.”
Gotta love that last bit — “Oh yeah, and the rest of you Americans played a role, too.” Nevertheless, as Biden slathered some more lipstick on this pig, he still noted “a lot of families are still feeling the pinch.” One of the issues was that there were “global supply chain challenges that keep prices higher than they should be.”
Later in the transcript, Biden said “major independent forecasters agree as well, that these bottlenecks and price spikes will reduce as our economy continues to heal.”
The problem is, Biden’s been making the problem worse. His administration’s extended additional unemployment benefits long past when they were needed. His Democrats were behind many of the shutdowns that have left suppliers behind and created imbalances. And, now that Biden and others on the left are urging new restrictions over the delta variant of COVID-19, we could see even more problems ahead.
But, as even Biden had to admit in his offhand way, inflation is in the here and now. It isn’t likely to be going anywhere.
As Sky News reported Wednesday, the same day Biden took his victory lap, the key issue driving inflation rates was supply shortages. Not everyone thought they were going to “reduce as our economy continues to heal,” as Biden said they would.
While Oxford Economics’ Kathy Bostjancic said June “marked the peak in the annual rate of inflation,” the economist noted the United States was hardly out of the woods yet.
“That said, price increases stemming from the reopening of the economy and ongoing supply chain bottlenecks will keep the rate of inflation elevated,” she said.
It’s not just auto components or computer chips that are driving this, however. Take McDonald’s, which is facing an unusual shortage.
According to a Saturday Wall Street Journal report, the fast-food giant “recently told restaurant owners that they needed to limit orders of bags from suppliers as usage is running ahead of already high numbers last year.”
“Many customers are asking for their Big Macs, McNuggets and fries in bags even when they dine inside, driving the tightness, the chain said in the message. Workers who have spent months packing all orders to go during the pandemic aren’t used to serving meals on trays, contributing to the strain, the company said.”
The chain “said prices at its U.S. restaurants are up around 6% from the same time last year as it handles labor and food cost pressures,” the Journal reported.
In May, the Journal reported restaurants throughout the United States were seeing massive supply-chain problems, with one deli telling the paper it was only getting 40 percent of the chicken it was ordering and another pizzeria reporting the price of pepperoni jumped 60 percent over five weeks.
If you’re a fan of the drink, you can also expect a shortage of glass bottles. WBBH-TV in Fort Myers, Florida, reported Wednesday that bars, breweries and distilleries were having problems finding containers to put their wares in.
“Everywhere we were calling our distributors and manufacturers, the demand was short,” said JoAnn Elardo, founder of the Wicked Dolphin Distillery in Cape Coral, Florida, told the station. “We kind of saw that there was a problem and we started ordering very heavy.”
Even with that and with extra storage facilities, she said they’re running into supply problems with the bottles. Wicked Dolphin’s sales may be booming, seeing increases of over 150 percent, but Elardo said labor shortages and shipping bottlenecks were making it difficult for suppliers keep up.
“If they’re able to get it, they’re having a problem shipping it to us,” she told the station.
“The consumer is going to start to see things being sold out,” she added. “Not only with our brand but with other brands. They’re not going to be able to get their product.”
And when goods are selling out, their prices go only one way — and it’s not down.
As for the shipping problem, there’s a shortage of truckers, too.
“The driver situation is about as bad as I’ve ever seen in my career,” Eric Fuller, CEO of U.S. Xpress, told Yahoo Finance Monday.
He’s increased pay by 30 to 35 percent over the past year and said he might need to raise salaries more — although he told Yahoo Finance his company may not be able to pay the kind of salaries necessary “to keep prospective drivers from taking other jobs,” the outlet reported Wednesday.
But remember? This was all supposed to be part of the grand strategy on the part of President Biden. Here he was during a media briefing in June:
Biden’s brilliant solution for struggling employers to find workers: “Pay them more.” pic.twitter.com/9zRUHe7ARE
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) June 24, 2021
The problem is that companies can’t just “pay them more” and deliver products that Americans can afford.
On Wednesday, President Biden did an Annemiek van Vleuten-style victory lap in the White House East Room, touting one positive jobs report and predicting “these bottlenecks and price spikes will reduce as our economy continues to heal.”
The evidence — and the experts — seem to disagree with that.
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