Joe Biden Tonight — Talking Tough on Ukraine and Inflation
Author: Greg Valliere
March 1, 2022
SUPPORT FOR THE UKRAINIAN PATRIOTS has unified Washington like no other issue in recent years; criticism has been confined to the far right and far left, with agreement in the mainstream that Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes against Ukrainian citizens.
BIDEN WILL EXPRESS OUTRAGE, but if Ukraine falls later in March, voters may ask why he didn’t do more. So he can’t take ownership of this issue, because there are limits to what he can do. One of the few major tools left is including energy in SWIFT sanctions, a move that would agitate fuel-needy Europe and keep gasoline prices high.
WHICH BRINGS US TO THE OTHER MAJOR ISSUE TONIGHT: Polltakers unanimously agree that inflation in general and gasoline prices in particular are an enormous albatross for Democrats, who face an election debacle in November.
SO BIDEN WILL LIST several steps to combat inflation. White House officials leaked proposals yesterday, including producing more goods in America and strengthening supply chains, reducing the deficit, promoting fair competition, helping small businesses and protecting consumers, and eliminating barriers to employment.
MUCH OF THIS IS VAGUE, and Biden is on thin ice when he claims that his Build Back Better bill can somehow lower inflation while adding another trillion dollars to the national debt. Some ideas that poll well — especially curbs on drug prices — will be highlighted tonight, as Biden cherry-picks from the stalled BBB bill.
BIDEN CAN ONLY HOPE that the port gridlock continues to ease, that gasoline prices level off by summer, that infrastructure projects begin soon, and that year-over-year inflation data starts to improve. Blaming corporate greed or price-fixing simply won’t fly with most voters. We don’t expect much new tonight, with a few exceptions such as cracking down on nursing home costs.
THE SIMPLE FACT IS THAT BIDEN suddenly has become a wartime president, sending weapons (and, perhaps, looking the other way as anti-Putin mercenaries flood into Ukraine). Even if Ukraine survives, there’s no guarantee of electoral success for Biden in November; after all, Winston Churchill was rejected by British voters in the summer of 1945 because they wanted a better economy.
BIDEN IS NO CHURCHILL, and the staggering rise of crime in the U.S. cannot be reversed by one speech. Neither will inflation suddenly look better, which means interest rates will have to head higher — still another development that traditionally has been ominous for the party in power.
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