Biden Is Blaming Everyone for Inflation but Himself | Opinion

With inflation raging out of control under his watch, President Biden is running out of excuses. First, his administration tried to claim inflation wasn't really happening. Then they said it was "transitory." When that didn't work, Biden and his team switched to blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Let's be absolutely clear about why prices are high right now: COVID and Vladimir Putin," President Biden tweeted Wednesday morning. "Last month, about 70% of the increase in inflation was a consequence of Putin's price hike because of the impact on gas and other energy prices."

This isn't just untrue; it's a disingenuous deflection.

Yes, Putin's horrific invasion of Ukraine has disrupted global energy markets and led to higher gas prices over the last few months. But gas prices were rising for nearly a year before the invasion began. And even when you factor out gas prices and food, inflation was still 6.5 percent year-over-year.

The truth is that the current surge in inflation corresponds not with the COVID-19 outbreak or Putin's invasion but with Biden's inauguration.

This is not to say that all of our current inflation is Biden's fault—far from it. But the President cannot begin to address inflation until he acknowledges its actual root causes.

First things first: The Federal Reserve, America's central bank, has printed trillions of new dollars out of thin air since the pandemic began. This was supposed to help the economy, but the only thing it really "stimulated" was inflation, because when more dollars chase the same amount of goods, prices inevitably rise.

While this is not in Biden's direct control, President Biden has done nothing to urge the Federal Reserve to change courses. In fact, he just recently re-nominated Fed Chair Jerome Powell and praised his leadership—despite Powell having overseen this very disastrous outcome. And Biden's other Fed nominees have been weak on this issue as well, meaning that while he didn't cause it, he hasn't helped.

Then there's the unprecedented deficit spending. Here, too, the problem didn't start on Biden's watch; President Trump blew out the deficit and passed large spending bills in 2020 after the pandemic hit, including the first set of stimulus checks. But while that's undoubtedly playing a role in today's inflation, it was also at the very peak of the COVID-19 emergency and is more understandable than what came next.

President Biden
A gas pump displays current fuel prices, along with a sticker of US President Joe Biden, at a gas station in Arlington, Virginia, on March 16, 2022. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden came into office with our understanding of the pandemic much more complete, vaccines already available, and a recovering economy. He nonetheless decided to ram through an utterly unnecessary $1.9 trillion spending bill, only 9 percent of which was directly related to mitigating COVID-19's health effects. Biden pushed this spending even as economists from his own party, people like Larry Summers, warned this would cause an inflation surge.

It was an unforced error that drove the deficit up to $2.8 trillion, its second-highest level ever and second only to 2020, the very height of the emergency. Now, even liberal economists and pundits are acknowledging that the so-called American Rescue Plan was an "extraordinary policy mistake," as one ex-Obama official recently put it in a New York Times Op-Ed.

On top of all of this, Biden has contributed to high prices with burdensome government policies in other areas. From the many Trump-era tariffs Biden could have repealed by now that raise the cost of goods for consumers to his anti-energy policies restricting fuel production and more, the President has made things worse, not better.

So while it's true that inflation is a complex economic phenomenon not entirely within any one president's control, Biden continues to deflect blame for inflation onto baseless scapegoats rather than take accountability for his own unforced policy errors.

It's a disgraceful dereliction of duty—and the American people shouldn't stand for it, not least because it means inflation won't be mitigated.

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education and co-founder of BASED-Politics.com.

The views in this article are the writer's own.