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Joe Biden’s tone-deaf presidency

Many U.S. presidents have at times lacked the ability to read the mood of the nation, appearing woefully out-of-touch when their policy objectives did not align with the public’s priorities.

Typically, when these mismatches between the president and the people occur, savvy politicians have corrected their courses. For example, in the mid-1990s, when voters made it clear they did not crave the Big Government policies President Clinton was pursuing, he reversed course and declared the “era of big government is over.” Clinton abandoned his health care overhaul, cut taxes, reformed welfare with work requirements and eventually balanced the budget. He won reelection and left office with the highest approval ratings since Harry Truman.

President Biden ran as a pragmatic moderate but has governed as a big-spending liberal, and despite plummeting poll ratings, he remains entrenched in his unpopular policy positions.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Biden’s economic agenda. Since taking office, Biden has signed into law two multi-trillion-dollar bills – the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and the $1.1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – that have contributed to the raging inflation that is top of mind for American voters.

Several polls show that the public is worried that inflation, which stands at a 40-year high of 7.5 percent, is wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy and lowering Americans’ standard of living.

According to a new Quinnipiac University Poll, “Asked to choose the most urgent issue facing the country today, inflation (27 percent) tops the list, followed by immigration (12 percent) and COVID-19 (10 percent).”

What’s more, per a recent Gallup poll, “Nearly eight in 10 Americans expect inflation to go up, including half who anticipate it will increase ‘a lot.’” 

President Biden and his administration appear unconcerned about the public’s anxiety over rising prices. Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, was eviscerated when he retweeted last October, “Most of the economic problems we’re facing (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high class problems. We wouldn’t have had them if the unemployment rate was still 10 percent. We would instead have had a much worse problem.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly mocked reporters who have asked sincere questions about the administration’s efforts, or lack thereof, to fight inflation.

The president himself has downplayed the unease among Americans concerning skyrocketing inflation. This comes after he promised that inflation would be transitory. 

Biden’s seeming lack of awareness regarding the economic woes Americans are experiencing is bad enough. But his refusal to chart a different economic course is downright disgraceful.

On Feb. 17, just a few days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index report showed that “Final demand prices advanced 9.7 percent for the 12 months ended January 2022,” President Biden tweeted, “17 Nobel Prize winners in economics say the Build Back Better Agenda will ease longer-term inflationary pressures. We can get this done.” Biden also tweeted, “If Congress passes our Build Back Better Agenda, we can lower costs for working families with a stroke of a pen.” 

So with inflation at a 40-year-high, Biden expects us to believe that the best solution is for the government to spend $5 trillion on a host of programs that will do nothing to arrest inflation. 

At this point in his presidency, one can assume either that Biden thinks the American people are economically illiterate or that he is hopelessly out of touch with the plight of everyday Americans. Either way, it doesn’t seem like the president will change course anytime soon. 

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.orgis senior editor at The Heartland Institute.

Tags American Rescue Plan Act Build Back Better plan Inflation Jen Psaki Joe Biden Presidency of Bill Clinton Presidency of Joe Biden Ron Klain

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