New poll shows it’s the greedflation, stupid

Even as post-pandemic inflation continues to fall, many Americans still feel the sting of high prices for basic goods, such as groceries. And Republicans are desperate to blame voter unease on President Joe Biden, particularly as consumer confidence improves and people feel increasingly bullish about their personal finances. 

But new polling on inflation suggests Democrats have an opening to reframe the issue as a discussion about corporate greed—an issue Democrats can turn to their advantage.

In a newly released survey, the progressive consortium Navigator Research found that 85% of voters now view corporate greed as a cause of inflation, with 59% calling it a "major" factor—a 15-percentage-point increase since January 2022. 

"The fact that so many Americans now say that corporate greed is a root cause of inflation is an important turning point," Maryann Cousens, polling and analytics associate for Navigator Research, told Daily Kos.

The feeling among Americans has become so pervasive that just added the term "greedflation" to its entries, describing it as a rise in prices "caused by corporate executives or boards of directors, property owners, etc., solely to increase profits that are already healthy or excessive."

It's not that voter concerns about inflation are new; it's that voters’ sense that corporations are profiting at the expense of average Americans by spiking prices is at an all-time high in Navigator's polling. 

In fact, voters’ belief that corporate greed is a "major" driver of inflation has jumped 17 points in the past two years among both independents (from 45% to 62%) and Democrats (55% to 72%).

Cousens told Daily Kos that voters are also clamoring for Congress to take action on the issue. Navigator's 2022 midterm survey showed that Congress addressing inflation was "the top priority for midterm voters by a large margin," according to Cousens. 

And while Republicans sought to tag government spending as the biggest cause of inflation in the midterm, some Democrats successfully pointed to corporate greed as the main culprit for soaring prices.

One of them was Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who narrowly won her hard-fought 2022 reelection bid in the swing state, where gas prices had spiked to $5.67 per gallon amid the campaign.

According to reporting from The Nevada Independent, Cortez Masto staffers said she frequently mentioned pocketbook issues, like the prices of prescription drugs, housing, and gasoline. 

“[She would] say, ‘yeah, I don't like the gas prices either,’ instead of just trying to sweep it under the rug,” Frank Hawk, president of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, told the Independent's Gabby Birenbaum. “And then [she] really pointed out what's a little more true, [which] is that you have oil companies and pharmaceutical companies and Big Corporate America making record profits on a daily basis, and we as the middle class are struggling to fill our gas tanks. And that should make us angry. And I think her passion came through, along with her sincerity.”

In other words, there's precedent for Democratic lawmakers to successfully empathize with voters and highlight their work to ease the cost of living. For example, President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, which cleared Congress on a party-line vote, has forced a $35 monthly cap on insulin for Medicare beneficiaries. And that price is quickly becoming available to a much wider swath of Americans as drug companies cap their own price or offer savings programs.  

Democrats have plenty to use to contrast themselves with Republicans. The Inflation Reduction Act also empowers Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, and Biden has put forward practical steps to raise taxes on billionaires. In the meantime, Donald Trump is vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which, if successful, could strip health insurance from tens of millions of Americans. Trump is also floating the implementation of 10% tariffs on nearly all imports to the U.S, which would functionally raise taxes for U.S. consumers by more than $300 billion a year, according to the conservative Tax Foundation think tank.

Last month, Navigator released polling of likely general election voters in 61 battleground districts, showing that congressional Republicans still hold a 10-point trust advantage on the issue of "fighting inflation." However, once Navigator actually named the lawmakers, Democratic legislators in those districts edged out Republican lawmakers. Forty-five percent of voters said they trust their Democratic representative "a lot" or "some" to fight inflation, while 42% said the same of their GOP representative.   

Navigator's most recent poll found the most persuasive messages on price increases focus on corporate profits and CEO salaries being “at an all-time high, outpacing inflation” while corporations are “raising prices for families and small businesses.” It's a message the White House and Democrats should be pushing proactively, particularly given the fact that the economy is overall on much stronger footing than it was during the 2022 midterms. 

The country’s economic upswing, coupled with Americans increasing belief in greedflation, suggests voters are ripe for an argument that the high price of consumer goods is a product of corporate greed, not economic missteps. And Democrats have a plan for that.

Republicans demanded border security, worked on a compromise deal with Democrats, and now want to blow the whole thing up. Biden is promising to remind Americans every day that the Republican Party is at fault for the lack of solutions to the problems they claim are most important.

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Watch Fox gush over Biden’s economy

News that the U.S. economy grew at a brisk 3.3% annual pace since October wasn't just good: It was great in a lot of ways.

On average, the economy grew a robust 2.5% in 2023—a year in which analysts practically tried to speak a recession into reality. No such luck. In fact, from the fourth quarter of 2022 to the fourth quarter of 2023, the economy grew 3.1%.

The combination of increasing consumption, low unemployment, and falling inflation even had a Fox Business reporter gushing over President Joe Biden's economy.

"It's a sweet spot," remarked Fox Business' Lauren Simonetti, calling consumption "formidable" over the holidays. "We're seeing an economy that is proving resilient—growing as inflation is moderating. That's why I'm calling this the sweet spot, right? Enough growth to cool inflation."

Thank you Dark Brandon!

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 25, 2024

The New York Times' Paul Krugman likewise dubbed it the "Goldilocks economy," neither too hot nor too cold. And Krugman predicts the country's inflationary woes are now over.

In other words, it continues to look as though the Biden administration is overseeing a "soft landing" for the economy—one that supposedly couldn't be achieved.

Indeed, the University of Michigan's survey of consumer sentiment surged to a reading of 78.8 in January, its highest level since July 2021 and a 21.4% increase from a year ago, according to CNBC. A big driver of that increase stems from consumers’ agreement with Krugman that inflation "has turned the corner," as survey director Joanne Hsu put it.

All of this good news is going to drive an already seething Donald Trump absolutely mad—particularly Fox Business analysts swooning over Biden's economy. The same Fox analyst also promised to scour the report "to see if there are signs that maybe the economy doesn't feel as, or isn't as resilient as it might seem."

Shorter Fox-speak: Stay tuned, Trump. We'll invent bad news one way or another!

For anyone who hasn't noticed, Trump is already getting increasingly erratic on his quest to fabricate bad news for Biden:

  • He's livid over his Republican rival Nikki Haley refusing to drop out of the GOP primary after New Hampshire.

  • He’s strong-arming the Republican National Committee into declaring him the nominee after a grand total of two state contests.

  • He's asking Senate Republicans to torpedo a potential border deal with the White House so he can spend the rest of year fear-mongering over a supposed "invasion" of immigrants spearheaded by Biden.

  • He's pushing House Republicans to impeach Biden so he can rail about Biden's supposed corruption.

  • He's rooting for an economic "crash," hopefully sometime very soon.

  • He's promising "bedlam" in the streets of America if he loses the election (a chaos candidate promising chaos if The People vote against chaos).

  • And he's agitating for full immunity from absolutely any action—including murder—he takes as president.

It's January, folks, and Trump is already coming off the rails despite the fact that he's basically cruising to the Republican nomination.

It's a palpable show of desperation sprung from a place of weakness. Trump knows New Hampshire and Iowa both exposed serious cracks in his general election voting coalition. The turnout and makeup of the electorate in both states suggests he isn't expanding the universe of Republican voters. He's simply culling the party down to a smaller, harder-right faction of the electorate.

In short, Trump's not adding, he's subtracting. And if he's going to ride that smaller slice of the electorate to victory, he's going to need to trash the country in every way possible in order to depress turnout for Biden.

That’s all fine by Trump because the main impetus of his every move is the sheer terror of spending his last living years in a jail cell. If he has to single-handedly unravel the country on his quest for freedom, so be it.

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When good news about the economy triggers a bad news media vibe

The media spent the bulk of last year assuring Americans a recession was imminent. But not only has that much-ballyhooed recession failed to materialize, news also broke this week that the U.S. economy grew 5.2% in the third quarter—the fastest pace of growth in almost two years.

Good news! The notably robust growth, an upward revision from a previous government estimate of 4.9%, looks pretty sick (“cool” in kid slang) in this U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis bar graph comparing quarterly reports over the last year.

But wait, it gets better! The White House touted even more good news on Thursday:

  • Annual inflation fell to its lowest level in more than two-and-a-half years.

  • Monthly inflation was zero (zip, nada, nothing).

  • Gas prices have fallen by $1.77 since they peaked after Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022.

  • Prices for eggs and milk are down over the past year.

To put a finer point on inflation easing: Personal consumption expenditures fell to 3% year over year in October—the lowest PCE inflation rate since March 2021. In graph form, it looks like inflation ascended a mighty hilltop over the past two years, peaking last summer, and nearly returning to the flatlands  in October.

More good news on the economy today: Annual inflation fell to its lowest level since March 2021 and monthly inflation was zero. President Biden will not stop fighting to lower costs for hardworking families.

— Jeff Zients (@WHCOS) November 30, 2023

Don't worry, though, the dogged media is determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, come hell or high water.

Following news that consumer spending rose again in October, University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers posed a challenge to reporters and analysts.

"There's been about a million think pieces asking 'why are people so miserable about the economy,'" Wolfers tweeted Thursday, "but I'm yet to see one grapple with the fact that folks are spending as if they're actually pretty optimistic about their economic futures."

There's been about a million think pieces asking "why are people so miserable about the economy," but I'm yet to see one grapple with the fact that folks are spending as if they're actually pretty optimistic about their economic futures.

— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) November 30, 2023

Turns out Wolfers was a day too late. CNBC had already met the challenge with a piece titled "Americans are 'doom spending' — here's why that's a problem.”

Hear that? Dooooooooooom spending! It's over, folks—pull up the covers, close your eyes, and retreat back to more comforting times, like when you were wiping down all your groceries to ensure they were plague-free.

The fanciful phrase "doom spending" appears to have been dreamed up by the credit monitoring service Credit Karma, and then mass distributed by CNBC:

Nearly all Americans, 96%, are concerned about the current state of the economy, according to a recent report by Intuit Credit Karma.

Still, more than a quarter are “doom spending,” or spending money despite economic and geopolitical concerns, the report found. ...

“Much like doom scrolling, we’re seeing people mindlessly shop to soothe concerns about the economy and foreign affairs, which could take a toll on their financial wellbeing,” Courtney Alev, Credit Karma’s consumer financial advocate, told CNBC.

Sorry, Wolfers—asked and answered. People are apparently so miserable, they are raining down money on the economy. It's dreadful stuff.

Not to be outdone, the Gray Lady's flagship podcast, ”The Daily,” dropped a 22-minute episode Thursday titled "The Bad Vibes Around a Good Economy." Sure, we may have escaped the long-promised recession on the policy side, but the whole economic vibe is just a downer right now, folks. Case in point: increased spending.

Thank goodness the media is here to tell us why we can’t have nice things—just in time for the holidays.

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There has been a ton of coverage in recent weeks over a streak of poor 2024 polling for Democrats and Target Smart’s Tom Bonier joins us to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. We talk about what to take from these polls and how to balance them against the much more positive election results we’ve seen this year. We also discuss how early voting data continues to evolve and how Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign will use Ohio’s recent abortion and marijuana referendums to find new persuadable voters next year.

Brooks and Capehart on why a government shutdown could last a long time

New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post associate editor Jonathan Capehart join Amna Nawaz to discuss the week in politics, including the country barreling toward a government shutdown and the first hearings in House Republicans' impeachment inquiry of President Biden.

Surprisingly strong economy shifts political calculations

The U.S. economy is hitting a stride, growing at a 2.4-percent rate in the second quarter in a surprisingly strong showing that adds confidence to the idea that the nation may avoid a long-threatened recession.

The growing economy comes coupled with other good economic news: Inflation is slowing, and unemployment sits at just 3.6 percent. 

Markets have noticed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 4 percent over the last month and more than 6 percent this year, despite dropping Thursday. 

It's all good news for the White House and President Biden, who have used the recent string of positive economic announcements to tout their stewardship over the economy as they head into an election next year. 

But it doesn't mean the administration can breathe easy — over the economy or Biden’s political future.

Some economists think a recession is still possible, and Republicans, while more focused in recent weeks on probes into Hunter Biden's legal difficulties, have not dropped their economic criticisms of the White House.

“It's entertaining to watch the administration sit here and say, ‘Oh everything’s great now,” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) said Thursday.

“Yes, inflation has come down, but the economy in no way is growing at the levels that it needs to be and we need to enact reasonable and responsible budget cuts going forward to right size our economy and get the country moving in the right direction,” added Lawler, who represents a swing district and is one of the more vulnerable House Republicans in next year’s election.

The White House rebuked GOP lawmakers, pointing remarks from to Fox Business Channel’s Cheryl Casone, who said Thursday: “There goes that recession talk, right?” 

“Even Fox Business is welcoming today’s blockbuster economic growth numbers, the latest in a long line of proof points that Bidenomics is delivering for middle class families,” spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a memo. “That’s because this strong growth report is objectively good news for the American people, which elected officials should support regardless of their political party.”

The resilience of the economy has been a surprise for a number of reasons.

Market commentators for most of Biden’s term have been worried about a recession, and as the Federal Reserve launched a series of interest rate hikes in response to rising inflation, the fear was that a downturn would be hard to avoid.

The Federal Reserve itself in March predicted a “mild recession,” before reversing its position Wednesday after raising interest rates another quarter-percent.

“The staff now has a noticeable slowdown in growth starting later this year in the forecast, but given the resilience of the economy recently, they are no longer forecasting a recession,” Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

That resilience has taken several different forms but has been nowhere more noticeable than in the labor market. Unemployment has remained near historic lows even as the Fed has undertaken one of the fastest interest rate tightening cycles on record in response to prices that climbed as high as 9.1 percent annually last June.

Lower employment is usually associated with lower prices due to how much businesses have to pay workers and still turn a profit. But that relationship has been called into question during the recent inflation, as prices have been steadily falling since last June while unemployment has remained near record lows.

The unusual nature of the post-pandemic inflation, driven in part by massive consumer savings during the lockdown era and supply chain shutdowns, was likely the primary reason. Price fluctuations occurred in different sectors of the economy at different times, and companies raked in record profits, choosing to keep prices high.

In making the case for its handling of the economy, the Biden administration Thursday pointed to investments it made when Democrats held majorities in Congress in 2021 and 2022. Those investments were mostly in the Inflation Reduction Act, a bipartisan transportation and infrastructure bill and a major semiconductor bill.

This has led to investments north of $190 billion as of May, much of it in green tech and industry, that is expected to lead to a factory construction boom.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) touted the investment in plants and equipment in a blog post Thursday, noting its contribution to the beefy GDP number.

“Nonresidential private fixed investment accelerated, contributing 1 percentage point to [second quarter] growth. Private construction of manufacturing facilities alone, such as factories, contributed about 0.4 percentage point, this category’s largest growth contribution since 1981,” economists with the CEA wrote.

Some key factors do leave a number of economists wary of another ding on the economy later this year. Millions will see an end to the three-year pause in student loan payments later this year, which could put a crunch on consumer spending.

Interest rate hikes have also weighed heavily on the housing market for more than a year, driving high mortgage rates and dampening demand.

Demand is beginning to rise again, but so are prices with would-be sellers reluctant to give up their low mortgage rates and put their homes on the market. 

Powell said Wednesday that the housing market has “a ways to go” before it reaches a balance and prices cool.

The news of economic growth comes just weeks after the White House launched its “Bideonomics” messaging, which was met with speculation at the time about whether they were taking a victory lap too soon.

Throughout Biden’s presidency, Republicans have hammered him for high inflation, and they sought to use it against Democrats in the 2022 midterms. They are expected to focus on the economy, along with their investigations into the Biden family, again in 2024.

Biden celebrated that the GDP number Thursday, arguing that the economic progress “wasn’t inevitable or accidental” but was due to Bidenomics — a message voters can expect to keep hearing as Biden and officials traverse the country to tout their work on the economy.

“[H]ard-working Americans are seeing the results: Our unemployment rate remains near record lows, inflation has fallen by two thirds, real wages are higher than they were before the pandemic, and we’ve seen more than half a trillion dollars in private sector investment commitments in clean energy and manufacturing,” he said.

‘America First’ Has Answers for U.S. Crisis Of Confidence

By Steve Cortes for RealClearPolitics

A majority Americans begin 2022 full of worry and dread. During President Biden’s first year in the White House, societal anxiety surged, including among voters who identify as independents and Democrats. In the newest Axios/Momentive year-end survey, 2021 saw a 50% increase in fear about what 2022 will bring among independents. Democrats weren’t much more sanguine. They began last year with refreshing optimism as their party took control of the White House and Congress, with only 19% of Democratic voters declaring themselves fearful about 2021. By year’s end, that number had surged to 45%.

Reflecting this dour assessment, the RealClearPolitics polling average of Joe Biden’s approve/disapprove ratio also receded sharply for the last year, from a stellar 20-percentage-point surplus in his favor on Inauguration Day, to a minus- 10-point rating.

RELATED: Biden’s Job Approval Has Entered Dangerous Territory

Given this environment, Republicans naturally grow more confident about the midterm elections. But taking nominal control of Capitol Hill won’t be enough. Will Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and their lieutenants be content with stopping the woke and socialist-inspired agenda of progressives? Or will they boldly implement a full-throttle populist nationalist “America First” agenda?

Doing so requires focus, not a scattershot approach. The next Republican-majority Congress must concentrate intensely on a short list of the most pressing issues, where only the populists can rescue everyday Americans from the abuses of oligarchs and their handmaidens in both major political parties.

The first issue is inflation. This is the factor that explains the 30-point approval swing that has buried Biden’s White House in a matter of months. Inflation is, essentially, a tax — and a highly regressive one at that. After decades of restrained inflation, Americans understandably fear the continued loss of prosperity as their standard of living erodes by the day. For eight straight months, real wages have declined under Biden.

The ravages of inflation, predictably, hit the working classes the hardest. For example, a recent Gallup poll found that among modest earners making $40,000 or less per year, 71% report that inflation is a severe or moderate hardship. In contrast, among workers earning $100,000 per year or more, only 2% cited inflation as a severe hardship. A November Quinnipiac survey found that Biden still enjoyed a slight positive approval rating on the economy among those with college degrees, 50%-49%. But among non-degree holders, Biden languishes 54 percentage points underwater, with only 20% approval and 74% disapproval. Inflation helps explain this huge chasm.

What solutions should be offered? For starters, stop unfair labor competition so that workers have a chance to keep pace with the soaring prices of Biden’s inflation surge. Stop allowing millions of largely unvetted, illegal migrants to simply waltz into America under the bogus pretense of seeking asylum.

For our citizens, end obstacles to work, including the administration’s capricious and unscientific workplace vaccine mandates.

RELATED: Trends Show More And More Hispanics Are Moving To GOP: ‘Biden Turned Me Into A Republican’

Return to the pro-energy policies of the previous administration: oil pipeline construction, rejuvenated drilling, and aggressive exploration on government lands so that Americans can benefit from cheap, abundant, domestic fuel.

Longer term, continue the process that President Trump began of demanding fairness and reciprocity in trade deals, especially with China. Once an America First president is elected in 2024, change tax and tariff policies permanently to compel the on-shoring of production back to the United States, especially in critical industries like semiconductors and medicines.

But healing the economy alone is not enough.

Our society suffers a sickness of the soul as well, and legions of everyday Americans feel silenced and intimidated by ruling class elites who insist that we pretend to believe fundamental myths, like the existence of dozens of genders. It’s high time for politicians to speak publicly the way the vast majority of Americans speak privately regarding hot-button cultural issues.

As a recent Rasmussen poll revealed, 75% of Americans agree that only two human sexes exist. Only 18% believe in multiple genders, and yet that small minority drives education policy and makes nearly every important cultural decision for our society, declaring the massive supermajority of Americans to be hopeless bigots for accepting the reality of humanity as male and female.

From a policy standpoint, the America First agenda must embrace this issue for elections, from school boards all the way to the U.S. Senate. Stop radical teachers and their unions from sexualizing young children and indoctrinating them with unscientific gender-fluid psychobabble. Forbid any public buildings or funds for such atrocities as drag-queen story times for children. Make illegal the infiltration of girls’ and women’s sports by biological males.

RELATED: Ted Cruz: Biden Impeachment Likely If Republicans Win Back The House

The common theme with these two issues is protection. Right now, powerful forces collude to oppress the masses, via financial and cultural repression. Only the emerging populist nationalist movement can protect citizens in both realms. Restoring wages and restoring gender sanity represent an agenda worthy of a great movement in this new year.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

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