Here Are the Main Tools for Fighting Inflation
Plus, The Two-Word Question That Could Decisively Shape Abortion Politics
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DANIEL SHOAG AND STAN VEUGER: Here Are the Main Tools for Fighting Inflation
Inflation is the “number-one challenge facing families” and “my top domestic priority,” said President Joe Biden in remarks at the White House yesterday. The Consumer Price Index has risen 8.5 percent over the past year, and in recent Gallup polls almost one in five Americans identified it as the biggest problem facing the country overall. No longer do pundits entertain the notion that inflation harms only the wealthy and redistributes nicely to lower-income groups.
What then can the Biden administration do about the situation?
While debate over precisely why inflation is so high is heated and ongoing, there is little disagreement that fiscal and monetary policy have combined over the course of the past two years to raise aggregate demand above aggregate supply. This in turn has led to rapid price increases. Other generally agreed upon contributing factors include the continuing COVID-related supply-chain problems and increases in commodity prices due to the war in Ukraine, both mentioned by Biden yesterday. For present purposes, however, what matters is not assigning blame but charting a course forward. The least painful path is to pursue policies that will expand aggregate supply.
As Roe v. Wade comes to an end, the next phase of the abortion war is underway. Today the Senate plans to vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prohibit some government restrictions on abortion, including restrictions already passed by several states. Since Senate Democrats don’t have a filibuster-proof majority or enough votes to set aside the filibuster, the bill isn’t expected to pass.
State-by-state battles over abortion might go one way or the other, depending on tactics. But the war to shape majority opinion on this issue, if not to set national policy, will likely be decided at the strategic level, by a struggle to define what the debate is about. Is the debate about the decision itself—whether to end a pregnancy? Or is it about who makes that decision?
Those two perspectives have squared off before. In 1989, when the Supreme Court began to roll back Roe, pro-choice strategists framed the issue with a catchy question: “Who decides?” That question dominated the debate for years, and it likely will do so again, thanks to a paradox of public opinion: Most Americans don’t like abortion, but they also don’t like the government telling them what to do.
McConnell’s long history of deception means his promise to not end the filibuster to pass a national abortion ban is worthless. Plus, the potential SCOTUS ruling is such an earthquake, it’d be beyond the Democrats’ ability to screw it up. Dana Milbank joins Charlie Sykes today.
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MONA CHAREN: The End of Abortion Absolutism?
For nearly half a century, the Supreme Court freed Americans from thinking hard about abortion. Its decisions in Roe v. Wade and later cases removed the matter from legislative consideration. That liberated voters from the responsibility to consider the competing values at issue. Whatever you think of those rulings—and in my judgment they were bad jurisprudence—they had the effect of permitting extremism on both sides to flourish.
Everyone knew that the law was fixed in concrete, freeing all to entertain the kind of purism that feels great in the abstract and only begins to curdle when applied in reality. Zealous pro-choicers could argue that any limitation on abortion at any stage of pregnancy for any reason was an unacceptable burden on women’s autonomy. And fanatical pro-lifers could counter that ending a human life, even one conceived in rape or incest, was murder.
If you think your own side has always been reasonable on abortion, you’re probably editing your memory. In 2013, the Florida legislature was considering a variant of the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act. The bill would have required physicians, in rare instances of second or third trimester abortions in which the baby is accidentally born alive, to give medical attention to the infant. A representative of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates testified against the legislation. Several legislators were incredulous. They asked, “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?” Alisa LaPolt Snow replied that her organization “believes that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.”
BEAU TREMITIERE: Will the Utah Senate Race Break the Partisan Doom Loop?
In late April, the Utah Democratic Party declined to endorse its own candidate against incumbent Republican Senator Mike Lee. Instead, the party rallied behind independent candidate Evan McMullin, the former Republican and vocal Trump critic who garnered nearly a quarter of Utah’s presidential vote in 2016. Despite cross-ideological agreement on a host of issues, cross-partisan coalitions like this one are almost unheard of in American politics. Americans are often forced to vote Republican or Democrat, and when there is an independent or minor party candidate, they’re typically not competitive—or worse, a spoiler.
It wasn’t always this way. For much of American history, minor political parties played prominent roles in electoral politics. It’s not that Americans have become more satisfied with their two main options; nearly two-thirds of Americans today would welcome alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties. Instead, despite the will of the voters, changes to electoral rules over time have snuffed-out the ability of alternatives to compete, including by outlawing “fusion voting.”
Happy Wednesday! Remember, we’re having Thursday Night Bulwark tomorrow (not today, an earlier email mistakenly alluded to) to talk about everyone’s favorite topic: abortion!
As JVL said, it’s not going to be a fun show, but hopefully a model where we can have these sorts of discussions in a “respectful, empathetic, smart, and kind” way.
Come see what you’ve been missing at TNB.
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“The funniest part of this embarrassment is that the memo is written in Axios’s lobotomized house style.” Axios and abortion and inconsistency.
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