The press is trying to help Democrats spin away America’s economic woes. It isn’t working.
“Why is trickle down economics still with us?” lamented Robert Reich for The Guardian last week.
The short answer is, “Because it works,” but it makes perfect sense that Reich, who is on par with economic prognosticator Paul Krugman for the New York Times, would make such an argument this close to the upcoming U.S. election.
This close to November 8, nothing is about the election and everything is about the election. Even first-rate PR professionals of the highest order have trouble denying such an empirical truth, tripping over their most intentionally bland dismissals.
Democrats are in trouble this election cycle, and no one is under any illusions as to why.
The economy is terrifying. The working-class is being hit extremely hard by rising prices and inflation. Touting strong jobs numbers is a train which will soon run out of track. Unemployment is a lagging economic indicator. Everyone understands fundamentally how things work.
First, consumers squeezed by an economic down-turn stop spending. Then, companies lose money. Next, companies start downsizing and closing.
For the press, selling inflation as “transitory” obviously hasn’t done much to improve the electoral prospects of Democrats this midterm election. Polling, if anything, has gotten even worse for Democrats.
Blaming Vladimir Putin, or COVID19, or other factors hasn’t done much for Democrats in the polls, either.
Voters worried about inflation and the economy, which is the vast majority, are far more concerned about how Democrats intend to fix the economy as opposed to who is to blame.
Some members of the press are- obviously- very concerned about Democratic Party prospects in the upcoming election. But finding ways to help elected officials spin away economic concerns this election cycle hasn’t worked so far. And it won’t work between now and election day.
While progressives in the press invoke the old liberal boogeyman, “Trickle-Down Economics,” and blame greedy corporations for higher prices, the voting public is growing increasingly agitated at what they see as a complete failure by the Democratic Party to speak to the most basic needs of the electorate.
When you are elected to office, you aren’t representing yourself; you have to speak for the majority, whatever your own personal beliefs. Someone whose personal beliefs would forbid such a compromise while in the role of representative, like a power-of-attorney holder not able to discharge their duties effectively, would need to find another line of work.
Plenty of people who would make fine attorneys chose not to pursue that career path for that precise reason. Someone can be intelligent, committed to justice, and great at debate…and find their moral values system incompatible with representing a guilty person.
The press balancing act to help Democrats avoid, spin or dismiss concerns about inflation and the economy has left a patchwork of campaign-poster gobbledygook, even at the highest level.
It has left us with New Yorker articles blithely asserting A.) “Several factors are pointing to further falls in inflation in the months ahead. As the calendar year comes to an end, some big price increases from late 2021 will drop out of the twelve-month inflation figures; and B.) “With shipping costs having plummeted recently, the prices of many goods should continue to fall. Oil prices are still a wild card.”
First of all, when the, “big price increases from late 2021,” finally, “drop out of the twelve-month inflation figures,” it will only make things look better on paper. In real life, for struggling consumers, those price increases will have become baked-in.
The New Yorker is telling readers there are, “some signs that rents, which have been one of the biggest drivers of inflation in this sector, may finally have peaked,” with no mention of how sticky higher rents are as an economic drag factor; and that it might be a very long time before rents come down- if they ever do.
Making it impossible for rental-property owners to collect rent during the pandemic- while still leaving them on the hook for taxes and insurance- scared plenty of investors out of a market previously considered a very safe bet. Now that renting has become a major credit risk, sub-prime lenders are moving in.
Sub-prime lending means consumers pay more for less. A sub-prime lending company is willing to assume more risk, which they offset by charging more.
Optimistically promising that, “with shipping costs having plummeted recently, the prices of many goods should continue to fall,” but that, “Oil prices are still a wild card,” seems disingenuous at best- as if the fact that everything we buy is shipped over vast distances using petroleum has nothing to do with rising prices. Surely readers of the New Yorker understand the relationship between rising fuel prices and higher costs for consumer goods which must be manufactured, shipped and sold via methods dependent on the price of oil.
What’s worse, many of these goods and products- from avocados to the rare earth materials needed to produce electric car batteries- the U.S. can’t even make anymore. America’s manufacturing infrastructure has been so hollowed out by the ravages of over-globalization, we couldn’t produce goods domestically- which would cost less to ship and require less oil- even if we wanted to.
When members of the media propose ridiculous schemes like imposing price controls to bring down inflation or decry so-called “trickle down” economics, it makes nervous consumers even more nervous.
Setting price controls to punish companies for “profiteering” ignores what such a policy might do to our economy long-term- besides scaring off any company or country willing to invest in it.
These efforts by the media are more than misguided; they are scaring people away from the Democratic Party.
More than anything else, beleaguered and increasingly impoverished voters want to know that the people they vote for in November will not make things worse.
These ham-handed efforts to save Democrats in November are reminding them, at a very inconvenient time, that things could always get worse.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)