Biden to America: Be confident in my leadership!

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Oh, the irony. It’s been four months since the White House allowed Joe Biden to sit down one-on-one with a reporter for anything on the record. His last such interview, a softball Super Bowl quick hit with Lester Holt, blew up in their faces when Biden irritably called the NBC News anchor a “wise guy” for asking about Biden’s earlier excuses for inflation. (And that was before Biden started blaming Vladimir Putin, too.)

Even the White House itself spends more time trying to clean up Biden’s remarks than any other task. Just two weeks ago, Karine Jean-Pierre couldn’t bluff her way through a question about Biden’s fabulist claim that he’d been “invited” to enroll at the Naval Academy, only the latest in Biden’s lifelong series of fabulist inventions about his own life.

The White House finally put the Associated Press in a one-on-one with Joe Biden. What was the message to Americans who have abandoned him? “Be confident!”

As for the overall American mindset, Biden said, ‘People are really, really down.’

‘They´re really down,’ he said. ‘The need for mental health in America, it has skyrocketed, because people have seen everything upset. Everything they´ve counted on upset. But most of it’s the consequence of what’s happened, what happened as a consequence of the COVID crisis.’ …

Biden also addressed the warnings by economists that the United States could be headed for a recession.

‘First of all, it’s not inevitable,’ he said. ‘Secondly, we´re in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation.’

The president said he saw reason for optimism with the 3.6% unemployment rate and America´s relative strength in the world.

‘Be confident, because I am confident we´re better positioned than any country in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century,’ Biden said. ‘That´s not hyperbole, that´s a fact.’

Well, we were a lot better positioned for that before Biden took office, at least economically. The US is not well positioned to weather inflation, let alone better positioned than other major powers. First off, our economy contracted in the first quarter of this year by -1.5%, even with inflation raging, and consumer sentiment makes Q2 look pretty iffy at the moment. That’s stagflation, and it’s one of the worst positions for projection of strength, either economically or militarily.

Next, and more importantly, we have the second-highest debt-to-GDP ratio among major economic countries. As of 2020, that ratio stood at 134.2% for gross debt and 98.7% for net debt, ie, the debt that the US owes others rather than itself. Only Japan is worse among major trading countries, although Italy and Greece are also worse but part of the EU’s integrated economy. The UK is at 102.6%/90.2%; Canada is at 117.8%/33.6%; India’s at 90.1%, with no net debt figure available; Germany is at 68.7%/46.3%.

Those countries have more flexibility to navigate inflation, whereas we have tapped out the monetary policy that could help ease the shocks. In fact, it’s our overuse of monetary expansion that put us in this situation, catalyzed by Biden’s completely unnecessary $1.9 trillion in off-budget spending in his American Rescue Plan. Biden not only claims that it has nothing to do with inflation, he seems to forget in this interview that it was the third such bill in less than a year:

BIDEN: Usually the question I get asked, at the beginning, the recovery act. Can you get this passed? How can you possibly do that? I got 1.9 trillion dollars.

It used to be long lines, people in nice cars … (inaudible) line up just to get a box of (garble) in their trunk.

People getting kicked out onto the street because they couldn´t pay the rent. Thousands and thousands of people. Guess what? It worked. Secondly, now here´s the important point, the second piece of this is it also seems to me we´re able to provide the funding for COVID, not only the shots and the shots in arms, and all the hospital costs, we´re able to reduce the cost of insurance. My point is people say, how can you get that done? If any other president passed just that act, and infrastructure, god almighty.

Name me a president that´s done anything like that before.

Ahem. His predecessor got two massive relief bills passed in eight months, managed to massively accelerate the R&D that created multiple successful vaccines in the same time frame through Operation Warp Speed, and also returned the US economy to growth at scale in the first full quarter after the shutdown. And, let’s not forget that Donald Trump managed to avoid triggering a massive inflationary wave while doing so, mainly because Trump had a rational energy policy that kept gas prices low so as not to create any more economic damage. Biden, on the other hand, pushed through an unnecessary third tranche of massive off-budget spending while even Democrat economists like Larry Summers warned that it would touch off inflation.

Biden’s still trying to blame corporate greed for his missteps, or just using non-sequiturs to avoid the issue:

AP: And yet you face a possible tradeoff in that climate change has this big impact. And yet Americans are unhappy about the cost of gasoline and fossil fuels. And I´m curious, like, what does that mean for you if you have to say, we need to increase production in the short term and companies say, but we don´t have the long-term incentives?

BIDEN: Well, I say in the short term, who said they made 315 or 16 billion dollars, these major oil companies in the first quarter? So the thing is three, twelve, five … I don´t know how many times …don´t buy back your own stock. Don´t just reward yourself. I mean, look, one of the things I ran on when I was running is that I come from the corporate capital of the world. More corporations are incorporated in my state than in all the rest of the United States combined.

And they try to make me, the MAGA party, tries to make me out to be this socialist. I got elected seven times in that state. But one of the things that´s changed is the notion that comes with corporate responsibility. The fact that you´re in a situation where you have a Fortune 500 company, if you´ve got 55 pay zero taxes, 40 billion dollars. Those surveys also show nobody including Republicans in suburbia think the tax system is fair. Sitting there paying 8 percent. All these things that are occurring that have to be shifted. It used to be, for example, I´ll give you one example …

So far, media fact-checkers keep avoiding this demagogic effluvium, but the data here is pretty easily found. Major oil companies are not making sky-high profit margins off of high prices, because their internal costs have also skyrocketed. They can’t pump more oil without sinking massive amounts of capital into projects that will take several years to pay off, and Biden has made clear that he wants to accomplish his “incredible transition” away from fossil fuels in a much shorter time frame. His Energy Secretary fumbled on that very point on Wednesday, in fact. As far as taxes go, these oil companies are paying significant amounts of them, and in fact a far higher effective tax rate on a much lower profit margin than Goldman Sachs, which conveniently supplied Biden with its economic advice.

Read through the whole transcript, and it becomes clear that Biden thinks he’s doing just great as president and sees no reason to change course. No one is more confident in Joe Biden than Joe Biden, but what Biden fails to see is that almost no one else is confident in Joe Biden at all these days. They’re all too busy wondering whether they can afford to fill the tank and buy groceries in the same week. The Joe Biden presidency is beginning to look like a confidence game, only Biden’s not the only con man involved.

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