Republicans blame Biden for inflation, but their economic record is the real disaster
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks during a press conference May 18, 2022, where he blamed rising gas prices on President Joe Biden. Economic deception is a big part of the GOP election. | Francis Chung / E&E News / POLITICO via AP Images

If the GOP successfully captures the U.S. House of Representatives, they will shut down the government, causing incalculable economic and social damage to go along with damage to democratic institutions. And that’s not hyperbole. Just take their word for it.

The GOP election platform, the Commitment to America, supported by GOP leadership, calls for making their 2017 $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthy permanent, slashing or eliminating social benefit programs, and imposing work requirements on recipients.

The plan calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), cutting federal aid to education, and killing Davis-Bacon’s prevailing wage requirements. The GOP will pass a nationwide ban on abortions, which is both a democratic and an economic issue for tens of millions of women and their families.

They propose to kill Social Security by requiring annual reauthorization, which would affect 70 million seniors and disabled people, and Medicare for 58 million people. If Republicans repeal the ACA, 35 million people will lose access to affordable health care, 21 million will lose access to Medicaid, and 135 million will be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

The GOP will continue to obstruct the Biden administration, seek to impeach Biden and other cabinet officials, and launch countless investigations.

If GOP majorities pass any of their agenda, President Biden will veto it. However, MAGA Republicans will attempt to ram it through by refusing to raise the federal debt limit, causing a government shutdown. Such a “hostage-taking” action could cause catastrophic damage, even triggering a global financial crisis. Provoking a crisis in governing is part of the fascist playbook.

Economic issues are a top concern for voters heading into the 2022 mid-term elections. Republicans hope President Joe Biden and the Democrats will be blamed for high inflation and a widely feared looming recession. Meanwhile, the GOP is trying to scare voters with racist images of an “immigrant invasion,” and burning cars, high crime, and climbing murder rates. They’re betting these toxic tactics will result in a “red wave.”

Republicans want desperately to frame the election around these issues rather than reproductive freedom, the assault on democracy, and the over 300 pro-coup GOP candidates on the ballot. These are also top concerns of voters, and the anti-MAGA majority is alarmed and awoken, making for a competitive midterm election.

The 8.2% inflation rate—plainly evident when you look at prices at the pump, utilities, rent, and food—is impacting the lives of working families. However, Biden administration policies are not responsible for inflation, which is a global phenomenon. According to Rep. Katie Porter, monopoly corporate profiteering (energy companies and retail food chains, etc.) accounts for over half of inflation, in addition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the disruption of global supply chains caused by the pandemic.

But polls consistently show most voters think Republicans are better at stewarding the economy and getting the nation’s fiscal house in order than Democrats. This mistaken view is nothing new. The GOP has branded itself as economically responsible even while hiding its horrendous economic track record over multiple presidential administrations.

But even if you don’t believe Republican presidential administrations are lousy at economic policy, look at where they govern in states. Nine out of the ten poorest states in the U.S. are Republican, and 95 out of the 100 poorest counties are Republican. GOP-dominated states consistently rank at the bottom in funding for education. Twelve states, all governed by Republicans, refuse to extend Medicaid coverage to two million eligible people.

Or if crime is your issue, remember that eight of the ten states with the highest murder rates in 2020 voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election this century. Per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Trump than those won by Biden.

Still, it’s hard to fathom Republicans having any economic credibility, given they have no plan to reduce inflation. Most Americans oppose specific GOP policies, like massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

The GOP forced a government shutdown in 1995-96 and attempted another in 2011. The results were disastrous, and massive public revulsion forced them to back off. But today’s GOP is dominated by MAGA fascists who are oblivious to public opinion, do not believe in U.S. Constitutional democracy, and won’t hesitate to tear everything down. A government shutdown would create mass chaos and new threats to democracy.

The most reactionary sections of the U.S. corporate ruling class and social forces back the mass MAGA fascist movement. They are in alliance with the global extreme right and fascists, including the Saudi monarchy and Russia, to defeat the Democrats. Speculation is rife that the action by OPEC to slash global oil production by two million barrels a day could constitute a classical October Surprise.

The GOP and its global extreme-right allies anticipate the public will direct their anger over higher gas prices at Biden and the Democrats. At the same time, Russia will net more revenues to pay for its invasion and occupation of Ukraine. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California told The Intercept, “There’s no doubt that the Saudi-led OPEC oil production cuts are a strategic effort to hurt Americans at the pump and undermine our work to tackle rising costs.”

The Saudi monarchy has aligned with Trump and the MAGA movement. Six months after Trump left office, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund invested $2 billion in Affinity Partners, a new investment firm established by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The Saudis invested another $1 billion with former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

While at their highest point in a year, Biden’s approval numbers are still underwater, mainly because of inflation. In response to spiraling prices, the administration increased U.S. domestic oil production and blasted oil companies for profiteering. Biden warned oil executives he would invoke emergency powers to reduce prices.

The Trump economic policies were a disaster, including starting the trade war with China, making a mess of shortages during the pandemic, and passing the $2 trillion tax cut for the wealthy, which ballooned the deficit. Once in office, Biden and the new Democratic majorities acted swiftly to pass legislation to address these crises, overcoming universal GOP opposition.

Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan, which included stimulus checks, aid to cities and states, and a child tax credit, benefiting the American people. Republicans attacked this spending, claiming the emergency aid was a disincentive to work.

Democrats passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to address the infrastructure crisis, the IRA to begin addressing the climate crisis (which also imposed a 15% corporate minimum tax), and the CHIPs Act to rebuild the U.S.’ manufacturing base and manage supply chain issues. Biden issued an executive order relieving up to $20,000 in student debt for 40 million borrowers.

These actions are long-term investments, and in most cases, the American people will not immediately feel their impact. Nevertheless, ten million jobs have been created under the Biden administration in less than two years, three times the number of jobs created during the last three Republican presidents combined.

The expanded tax credits in the ARP reduced child poverty by 30%, but they expired in January because the GOP refused to agree to their extension.

While inflation has increased to its highest levels in decades, so have wages, which now barely trail inflation. In addition to struggles of organized and unorganized workers for higher wages, the Biden administration ordered a $15/hour minimum wage for government contractors. The Department of Labor and NLRB is promoting worker rights and the ability of workers to form unions which will lead to higher wages and better benefits.

The IRA allows Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma and cap insulin prices at $35/month. Forty-three GOP senators voted against it. The administration lowered Medicare rates and increased Social Security payments.

Since Biden took office, 5.2 million more people have received health insurance through the ACA. The uninsured rate reached an all-time low of 8%.

These crucial achievements also highlight the persistence of profound economic, social, and structural problems. Suppose voters reward Democrats with more significant majorities, including an anti-filibuster Senate majority. In that case, Democrats can pass new legislation to increase the minimum wage, make community college tuition-free, fund universal pre-K and child care, and make the child tax credit permanent. Democrats can codify reproductive freedom, guarantee voting rights, eliminate partisan gerrymandering, and pass the PRO Act.

The choice is clear.


John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, where he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He currently lives in Chicago.