Joe Biden is the president of the United States, but CNN seems to think that it’s “not quite fair” to hold him accountable for the economic failures of his administration. Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of inflation, and on Tuesday’s Inside Politics, host John King and a panel discussed other people and organizations that they could blame for these abysmal numbers.
“There's only so much a president can do, but showing you're trying matters,” began King, suggesting that “the President is fighting psychology as much as he's fighting, you know, the math that people go through when they go to the grocery store or when they go to the gas station.”
King, along with congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, furthered the implication that people just don’t understand that while their grocery bill goes “up and up and up” the economy is good, actually:
KING: But if you look at these numbers, 5.6 million jobs created since Joe Biden became president, the unemployment rate is 4.6 percent. Disposable income is up two percent. There are positive economic indicators out there, but it's very hard for a president or his party to sound ‘hey you're fine’ when people are feeling pain.
FOX: Well, and that's the delicate balance of going out and selling something like the infrastructure bill or going out and selling this big social safety net bill because you might be able to argue, “look at all these projects coming into your community,” but people might think to themselves, but what about my family? What about the fact that when I go to the store milk costs more than it did two weeks ago?
“Those are the sort of challenges that the president has and the Democrats really have in messaging their agenda right now, because it is a push and pull,” Fox lamented. “It is a balance to go out and say things are going to get better or things are fine when that may not be the perception of many Americans.”
According to CNN, it’s not an economics problem or a Biden problem: it’s just a messaging problem, caused by people who aren’t smart enough to know how everyday prices work.
King also blamed pandemic recovery and, along with panelists Tia Mitchell and Olivier Knox, promoted the debunked theory that greedy corporations are largely driving high prices and inflation.
Mitchell claimed that “it's hard for the president to do anything because he can try to help people at home but the business community won't like that,” despite the evidence showing that inflation is rising due to a variety of factors under President Biden’s control.
To conclude, King complained that voters “tend to blame the politicians” for their economic struggles. This show of smoke and mirrors is part of a consistent effort from CNN’s liberal hosts and contributors to defend Biden tooth and nail from any criticisms of his policies, especially when it comes to economic issues that could lessen support for his exorbitant Build Back Better spending bill.
Read the full segment transcript by clicking Expand:
CNN's Inside Politics
JOHN KING: Let's bring it in studio now with me to share that reporting and their insights, CNN’s Lauren Fox, Olivier Knox at the Washington Post, and Tia Mitchell at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here is the what the president’s dealing with right now. Number one, just the personal pain Americans feel as you’re paying the price, and it's unfair in some ways to the president but gas was a lot lower one year ago because of the pandemic. There was no -- demand was way down so the price was way down. Now demand is up, the price, so compared to last Thanksgiving, you look at that and you say, wow, again, not quite fair but politics is not fair to the presidents sometimes but Olivier more broadly, Biden's handling of inflation. This is a poll of all adults. 67% disapprove, 33% approve. Two-thirds of the American people think the president is not doing enough. Again, there's only so much a president can do, but showing you're trying matters.
OLIVIER KNOX: Sure. It's about, about emotion as much as movement as one of my mentors used to say. This is about showing that he is trying to do something about something Americans feel. We talk about the price of gas at the pump and it's obviously very important because it's something that tens of millions, hundreds of millions of Americans experience. Don't overlook winter heating oil costs though. The energy crisis that, that, that we're facing is much broader than the pump. And I wonder, you know, releasing this a few days before Thanksgiving, obviously a big driving holiday. That's probably not going to have an impact on the price at the pump, but going to the next several months there's a chance that it’ll have an impact on other areas of high American energy demand.
KING: And, and you get, so, look, again, I think the movement thing is important. Are you trying to do something, trying to show you’ll do something. This is the mood of the country right now. I just showed you what people think of inflation, well, what do Americans think about the economy right now? You know, in the middle of the summer 45% thinking the economy is good. Now that number has dropped down to 30% thinking the economy is good right now. That, the president is fighting psychology as much as he's fighting, you know, the math that people go through when they go to the grocery store or when they go to the gas station.
TIA MITCHELL: And I think it also shows the disconnect between regular people at home, and I think if you ask a lot of American businesses, the economy is great. They are making good profits. They are seeing demand coming back, and so that's the disconnect because these businesses want higher prices because it's helping them to recover some of their losses from the pandemic, but that's affecting people at home as they are shopping for Thanksgiving dinner and things like that and that's the push and pull so it's hard for the president to do anything because he can try to help people at home but the business community won't like that.
KING: And those are the numbers you remember when you're standing there filling up your tank and you're just watching not a dial anymore but you're watching the numbers go by, or when you're standing in the grocery line and you watch the numbers go up and up and up which makes it hard for the president to make the case and it's dangerous for the president to sound optimistic when people are feeling a punch, but if you look at these numbers, 5.6 million jobs created since Joe Biden became president, the unemployment rate is 4.6%. Disposable income is up 2%. There are positive economic indicators out there, but it's very hard for a president or his party to sound ‘hey you're fine’ when people are feeling pain.
LAUREN FOX: Well, and that's the delicate balance of going out and selling something like the infrastructure bill or going out and selling this big social safety net bill because you might be able to argue, look at all these projects coming into your community but people might think to themselves, but what about my family? What about the fact that when I go to the store milk costs more than it did two weeks ago? Those are the sort of challenges that the president has and the Democrats really have in messaging their agenda right now, because it is a push and pull. It is a balance to go out and say things are going to get better or things are fine when that may not be the perception of many Americans.
KING: And you wrote about this. Joe Biden is not known as a fiery populist by any means, it’s just not his DNA but there's a lot of evidence that, yes, a lot of this is the pandemic economy, a lot of this is the economy trying to fight its way out of the pandemic, but there’s also a lot of corporations that are saying, hey, prices are up so no one is going to notice if we jack ours up a little bit more, too, and make some profits.
KNOX: Right, and that goes to the, that goes to the attitude or psychology that you were referring to before. CEOs and other senior executives at major corporations that are saying on earnings calls, this is to your point, on earnings calls, bragging about the fact that in the current climate when consumers expect higher prices is a pretty great time to raise prices actually so you have massively profitable businesses that are telling their investors, look, this is a great time for us because we can raise these prices. We can pass on costs to the consumers, and then you've got, of course, the consumers who are feeling the costs passed on.
KING: And then tend to blame the politicians –
KNOX: Of course.
KING: Or at least they get a chance, they get a chance to blame the politicians when they go vote so we’ll see. Fascinating to watch. We’ll keep on top of that.