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How should Joe Biden and Democrats address inflation before November? Experts respond

How should Joe Biden and Democrats address inflation before November? Experts respond
If president can’t get control of inflation and help working families, ‘Trump will have a certain “I told you so” vote’ in 2024

The Democratic Party is at a pivotal moment. Members from the most centrist Blue Dogs to true believers on the progressive left are warning of an impending shellacking in November as voters sour to the president’s job performance and see little action from the unified Democratic House, Senate and White House.

Hanging above the party’s myriad of other issues is possibly the most serious of all: inflation. Consumer prices are rising across the board, while some sectors like energy in particular are shooting up faster than others.

The most recent consumer price index (CPI) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released earlier this month, shows the CPI rising 1.2 per cent from February to March after rising 0.8 per cent the month before; driving the increase were surging fuel, housing and food prices. Groceries as a whole are up 10 points over the last 12 måneder, while gasoline is up 48 poeng. Household fuel costs were up even more.

That’s a dire picture for Democratic incumbents facing close races in November, who are looking for positive achievements to run on as they seek to both retain their seats personally and protect their party’s majority on a larger scale in both the House and Senate. Republicans currently hold nearly a two-and-a-half point advantage over Democrats in a FiveThirtyEight average of so-called “generic ballot” polls, which analyse voters’ preferences for a generic Democratic or Republican candidate to control their district to determine which party Americans generally want to control Congress after the midterms.

At the present time Democratic messaging on inflation is mixed, and has changed over the course of the Biden presidency. The president’s previous explanations of Covid-caused problems in the global supply chain have largely given way to blame placed on the shoulders of Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine and what Mr Biden has called the “Putin Price Hike”. That messaging has proved less than effective, as the president is now deep underwater among independents in a recent AP-NORC poll that measured his handling of the economy.

With all of that in mind, Den uavhengige spoke to four experts, one economist, one political analyst, and two Democratic operatives who work with candidates seeking to run for office (or retain their seats) about what the Biden administration should do to address higher consumer prices, and how Democrats individually should approach the issue on the campaign trail.

M. Saif Mekhari, associate economics professor at U. of Richmond’s Robins School of Business

On what the Biden administration should do: “If the supply chain issues were to magically fix today, we would see inflation go down a bit, but … I do think part of the inflation issues are not supply chain relatedI’m not even sure it’s a majority of it.”

“I do think the [Federal Reserve] should be aggressive in increasing interest rates even if they aren’t as worried about the temporary Covid aspects of the economy.”

What can the Biden administration do to address supply chain issues abroad and higher demand in the US? “I’m not sure how much the Biden administration has any power in fixing those things.”

“The question to ask is how [selskaper] can relieve some of the supply chain pressures … at places they are struggling. At the logistics level.”

J. Miles Coleman, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

On what can be done before November: “I don’t see much major legislation coming through the pipes in the next few months … At this point they kind of have to play what their hand is.”

“I just think it goes back to Democrats, when it comes to these midterms, they need to find some better way to message their accomplishments.”

Should candidates in red and purple districts run with the president, or against him? “One of the lessons to Democrats from 2010 og 2014 … you had a lot of Democrats in vulnerable, red districts that really wanted to keep [former President Barack] Obama at arm’s length.”

“And a lot of them still lost anyway, they were tied to him by the Republicans.”

What’s the real danger for Democrats on the issue of inflation? “If the economy is bad, I honestly wouldn’t count [former President Donald] Trump out.”

“Trump will have a certain ‘I told you so’ vote.”

Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Bernie Sanders-aligned Our Revolution

Should purple-district Democrats fear November? “Progressives were there to pass the reconciliation package, give universal child care, extend the child tax credit, and if they had the numbers to pass the policies, Americans wouldn’t be feeling this pain. Moderate incumbents should be worried, but this is the moment for progressives to build their caucus and deliver in 2022.”

What should Joe Biden do? “We need to pass legislation that boosts the bottom line of working people. We need a $15 minimum wage, we need Build Back Better. We need Biden to cancel the $50k in student debt that only requires an executive order. Biden is supposed to be the most pro-labor President, well he’s got six months to make sure American workers feel that in their bank account.”

Should incumbents or challengers in swing districts run in alignment with Joe Biden or keep some distance and establish their own brands? Should they run against him?

Candidates “need to run on the policies that matter – student debt relief, child tax credits, raising the minimum wage, creating social programs by raising taxes on the wealthy, addressing climate change – if some policies align with Biden then great, but for others, candidates need to run on progressive change.”

Kelly Dietrich, grunnlegger & CEO of the National Democratic Training Committee

On what message Democrats should send to voters to keep their majorities in the House and Senate: “Prices are rising and Americans are feeling that in their pocketbooks. We need a Congress to address rising gas and food prices … I hope it’s the party that values the knowledge of economists.”

“Republicans cannot be trusted … The American voters should under no circumstance think that the GOP is equipped to handle these problems. We need a Democratic Congress if we want issues to be dealt with responsibly. That’s what Dems need to run on.”

What should the White House do to help that effort? “We have got to make sure Americans are feeling relief in their wallet. The White House and Democrats must be bold. We can’t immediately make high prices go away, but we can pass legislation that helps working families out. We need to be raising wages, addressing student debt, and supporting working Americans.”

What should members tell their constituents about Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who thwarted the Build Back Better agenda as well as the push for voting rights? “Every candidate should run on the policies they believe in, but they must tie it directly to the voters’ needs. If we tear down other Dems with and lose control, it won’t matter which hairs we split.”

“The GOP IS A THREAT TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, not other Democrats. We must offer a real vision to help voters. Democrats can and should remind voters the GOP cannot be trusted.”