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For Biden, It’s Time for Some ‘Inflation Showmanship’
Even if he can’t solve the problem of rising prices, he can let himself get caught trying.
[On the June 16, 2023 episode of The Bulwark’s “Beg to Differ” podcast, hosted by Mona Charen, panelist Bill Galston shared what he hopes the Biden administration will do to signal that they are working to counter inflation.]
Mona Charen: What do you propose that the Biden administration should do at this point about inflation other than talk about it or recognize it as a sore point?
Bill Galston: Well, the president I worked for, Bill Clinton, said that when the public cares a lot about a problem, you may not be able to solve it, but you should do everything to make sure that you are caught trying to solve it.
So, let me give you an example. My wife and I experience sticker shock every time we walk into a grocery store or supermarket. What has happened to food prices is really quite shocking. And let’s take one of my favorite indicators: the steak indicator. Steak averaged $8 a pound two years ago. It’s now at $10. That’s a 25 percent increase.
There are all sorts of reasons why this is happening. But it’s not because the ranchers and farmers are getting rich. More than a couple of years ago . . . they were making $400 per head of cattle taken to market. As of last year, that figure was down to $12. If I were the Biden administration, I would assemble a very high-visibility event, including everybody in, literally speaking, the food chain. And I’d put on the table, “Okay, if farmers aren’t making money, and consumers are paying much, much more than they used to, where is the money going?” And really convince the American people that the president, the entire administration, are aware of the fact that . . . ordinary people can no longer afford to eat as they used to, and they’re downshifting. And they have to be seen to be doing something about that—or at least aware, in touch with the public’s everyday experience. I could go on, but I think that we need some real inflation showmanship here.
Mona: Interesting. Okay. Very good. I would also add there’s always the tariff thing. You can cut tariffs, that would be an immediate help.
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