Stay away from the White House. According to news reports, President Biden is rattled, seething, exasperated, frustrated. His approval rating is stuck around 40 percent. Republicans lead in the congressional generic ballot. His staff is demoralized and looking for the exits. Democrats have started making pre-criminations. They are already assigning blame for the electoral drubbing they expect to receive in November. Their list of culprits is long, predictable, and absurd. To hear liberals and Democrats tell it, none of what is happening or about to happen is the fault of Joe Biden or any of his policies.
The one thing this president is good at is passing the buck. His preferred scapegoat is Donald Trump. On his first day in the White House, Biden reversed Trump policies that had kept asylum seekers on the Mexican side of the southern border. Illegal immigration jumped. Biden shrugged. When asked about the border crisis in the spring of 2021, he told NBC News that the root of the problem was “the failure to have a real transition” from Trump. Besides, Biden continued, “we’ve now gotten control.” Border crossings hit an all-time high in April 2022.
Biden also blamed his predecessor for America’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer. He is right that Trump foolishly agreed to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 2021. But Biden modified that deal twice without batting an eye. First, he delayed the withdrawal to, for some reason, September 11. Then he moved it up to August 31. When American soldiers left Bagram Air Force base in the middle of the night in early July, diplomatic personnel, U.S. civilians, and Afghan allies had to face the growing Taliban offensive alone. Biden said a Taliban conquest was “highly unlikely.” The jihadist army controlled Kabul a month later.
Biden said that he was a prisoner of Trump’s deal with the Taliban. “When I became president,” he said on August 14, “I faced a choice: follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.” That is what Biden’s former boss would call a “false choice.” It’s not as if Biden treated other Trump agreements as sacrosanct. He could have just as easily left a small force in place while he pursued better terms for America’s withdrawal. And “our forces and our allies’ forces” didn’t get out safely. Biden had to send troops back to Afghanistan in a panicked rescue of Americans and Afghans who had worked with us for 20 years. Thirteen servicemen were killed in a terrorist attack at Kabul International Airport during the evacuation.
Biden’s excuse-making is stuck in an inflationary spiral. Since he became president, Americans have seen their purchasing power decline. Wages haven’t kept up with rising prices. In May, Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index plunged to its lowest level since the Great Recession. A Wall Street Journal/NORC poll conducted the same month found that 83 percent of Americans said the economy is “poor or not so good.” Voters hold the president responsible. In a May Washington Post/ABC News survey, Republicans held a double-digit advantage on the economy. An ABC News/IPSOS poll from June found that a measly 28 percent of adults approve of Biden’s handling of inflation.
Economist Lawrence Summers, who worked for both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, warned in February 2021 that Biden’s $2 trillion American Rescue Plan “will set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation, with consequences for the value of the dollar and financial stability.” Biden dismissed him. When inflation arrived in April 2021, White House and Treasury officials said it was “temporary.” And when inflation persisted, Biden pointed fingers at everyone but himself.
“The first cause of inflation is a once-in-a-century pandemic,” Biden said in a May 10, 2022, speech framing his economic agenda for the midterm campaign. This statement was misleading. The virus didn’t cause inflation—the government’s extraordinary fiscal and monetary response to it did. Biden piled more money on top of a staggering amount of spending despite opposition from Republicans and skepticism from Democrats such as Summers and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The American Rescue Plan was heedless and unnecessary. Now Biden acts as if it never happened.
Beginning last February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Biden has tried to pin inflation on Vladimir Putin. Though sanctions against Russian oil have affected global prices, Biden skips over the fact that inflation appeared long before Putin launched his unprovoked and brutal war. What’s happening in Europe may be another cause of inflation, but it’s not the most important one. Biden’s stimulus is.
Toward the end of his remarks last May, Biden named a third culprit. “While families struggle to pay their bills,” he said, “some corporate executives are on earnings calls with investors on Wall Street, cheering their record profits and explaining how they’re using this period of inflation to cover the rise in prices far beyond what they need to do to cover their costs.” Biden’s reliance on this liberal chestnut is a sign of desperation. Did corporate executives suddenly turn greedier when Biden became president? Why did they wait for 40 years to jack up prices? Or does inflation create price increases and not the other way around? Don’t ask Biden or his economists if you want to know the answer.
Asked on May 13 whether he could have responded more quickly to the nationwide shortage of baby formula, Biden said, “If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have, but we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us.” No, we didn’t. A whistleblower warned of unsanitary conditions at the Abbott formula factory as far back as last October. The FDA inspected the plant on January 22, then closed it and issued a recall of potentially contaminated formula on February 17. Biden has said he learned about the matter in “early April.” But he didn’t do anything about it until May. The White House, meanwhile, won’t disclose who informed Biden of the potential shortage or when that conversation took place. The public might as well consult a mind reader for answers.
“I don’t know what’s required here,” Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina told NBC News recently. “But I do know the poll numbers have been stuck where they are for far too long.” Well, duh. The reason for Biden’s collapse in the polls is simple: He is an incompetent manager who has presided over the highest inflation in 40 years. And he’s bringing the Democrats down with him. Unable or unwilling to jettison the policies that have put them in this mess, the party has no other option but to pretend that Biden has the situation under control and that the rising cost of living is acceptable. Prepare for more ridiculous spin in the months ahead. The Biden excuse machine is just revving up.
Photo: Lisa Ferdinando, DoD
We want to hear your thoughts about this article. Click here to send a letter to the editor.