Turn on any cable news program that covers American politics these days and you will see a drumming issue for the corporate media is inflation.
In particular, if you pay attention, the media tends to not only represent the issue as inflation, but that inflation represents a major issue for Biden and the Democrats heading into 2022.
The trend in these reports is to focus on the pain Americans feel at the pump when filling their gasoline tanks and the higher prices they pay for groceries.
While the coverage does not necessarily hold Biden responsible for inflation, it tends to suggest that it is his problem to solve and that Americans will hold him and the Democrats responsible.
This type of coverage of mere politics, as opposed to the underlying reality of inflation, forms in its own right a kind of disinformation campaign that runs the risk of returning working-class and middle-class voters to the very Republican Party that, in fact, has little concern. shown for, and in fact causes, the economic misery these Americans experienced as a result of stagnant wages, high health care costs, and gross and growing economic inequality that Republicans themselves advocated.
In this sense, the media coverage of inflation feeds the narrative that if Biden cannot tame inflation, voters will be ready to elect Republicans to office.
That is, if Biden can not stop the rise in prices, regardless of their causes, then it somehow makes sense to turn back to the party that undermines democracy, incited authoritarian politics and did nothing to to improve the lot of work non- and middle-class Americans. Trump’s tax cuts was a blessing to the rich and corporations in the United States and still led to companies laying off thousands of workers. Republicans tried – but fortunately failed – to repeal the Affordable Care Act, thanks to John McCain’s dramatic thumbs-up vote.
Meanwhile, the Democrats, as evidenced by the adoption of the U.S. Rescue Act without a single vote of Republican support, are the only party in the city trying to secure a social safety net in place to ensure Americans can continue in their meet needs while pandemic drags on. on. They are the only party trying to ensure that Americans can access affordable child care, pay fair prices for prescription drugs, have support for their families in the form of paid family leave, and receive a child tax credit that has dramatically reduced child poverty in America.
But if Biden cannot tame inflation fast enough, which is not even his administration’s fault, then voters, the media would make you believe implicitly, should choose authoritarian rule and economic devastation by choosing to elect Republicans who did nothing to address Americans. ‘economic misery and everything done in their power to undermine democracy, deprive millions of voters and divert wealth to the richest Americans.
What the cover does not do, and can easily do, is make any effort to explain to voters how inflation works, what causes it and what would end it.
And they can remind my voters what has happened to their lives and to our democracy under Republican rule, especially since 2016.
Mainstream economists are clear that inflation is not just Biden’s fault and that he not only has many instruments at his disposal to facilitate it, it’s not even his job.
David Kelly, for example, a chief global strategist at JP Morgan, testified: “We put it all on the president. We put him on a pedestal and pretend he has this power he does not have. It is the job of the Federal Reserve. . ”
Jason Furman, Harvard professor and top economic adviser to former President Barack Obama, agrees effectively with Kelly: “The uncomfortable fact is that inflation is the job of the Fed. Praying must be focused on other things. This is not good political advice, because people are upset about inflation, and they want the president to solve their problems. But the truth is, it’s not his problem to solve. ”
The other monumental irony associated with holding Biden accountable for inflation and possibly pushing voters back to Republicans is that Republicans, their policies, and the culture they promoted were major reasons for both the cause and persistence of inflation.
As Kevin Liptak and Matt Egan report CNN, “Ultimately, what caused high inflation is what will end it: The Covid-19 pandemic. When the demand for services returns, workers return to the labor market and the production of goods increases, some of the factors that drive up prices will ease. ”
Mark ZandI, a chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, second this view: “You are not going to lower inflation unless you suppress the pandemic.”
And yet it is Republicans who have not come on board to promote vaccination to Americans, but rather tend to engage in denial of COVID and to allow anti-waxing rhetoric to continue unhindered.
In addition, Zandi noted, Biden’s proposed policies will greatly help Americans economically: “Building back better is critical to keeping the cost of living in check, especially for lower- and middle-income families.”
And the real problem is not exactly inflation. It is that Americans who work for a living do not earn a living wage to begin with, such that price increases hit them hard, and that we do not have an adequate social safety net or a guaranteed basic income in this country.
Republicans never support raising the federal minimum wage. They constantly fall on Social Security and the Affordable Care Act. They do not seem to care that billionaires get away with paying no taxes, rather to reason for more tax cuts.
But the media seems to be forgetting or not caring about these little ones. Inflation — this is the big problem. No matter that our democracy is under attack, that white supremacy and domestic terrorism are increasing and being incited by Republicans in Congress.
Do you want things to get better? Vote for authoritarianism and inequality. This is what the country’s mainstream corporate media wants you to believe.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at Chicago State University. He has been a progressive voice for many years and has published numerous academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of Press Women , and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.