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Roundtable: Is current inflation President Biden's fault

Galesburg Register-Mail

To what extent is President Joe Biden responsible for the current inflation and what measures should he take to address it? 

Laurie Meulder

Presidents held responsible, but don't have power to change inflation

Inflation is the rate of increase in prices over a given period of time. Those most hurt by it are those whose money received does not rise with inflation. In our society wages have lagged for years. As the shortage of infant formula has demonstrated, corporate power in the United States has concentrated into fewer companies. In truly competitive markets, those companies would keep prices as low as possible while competing for customers, but the opposite has happened; they are raking in record profits. Consider fuel and gasoline — Chevron and Exxon have doubled their profits. Procter and Gamble — think diapers and toilet paper — raised prices to gain a 25% profit margin. With only four major meat processing companies in the United States, the cost of meat (15% more than last year) accounts for half of the increase in food prices. Presidents are held responsible for inflation, but don’t have direct power to change it. Biden’s charge to the Federal Trade Commission to investigate oil companies and his appointment of experienced anti-trust lawyers to the FTC and the Justice Department are worthwhile efforts. — Laurie Muelder

William Urban

Biden 100% responsible for economic downturn

I would say 100 percent. Joe did not have to like Trump to continue those policies that worked, but he (or his advisors) was determined to reverse all of them. COVID did hurt and Putin’s war was bad, but Joe had already established the downward trend.

To turn the economy around would require Joe to admit that his early efforts failed, but Joe has never shown that he learns from mistakes — he just insists that they were misunderstood or really were successes.

Two presidents in a row who cannot say they were ever wrong! I would blame the voters, but in 2020 the options were limited (and in Illinois we knew the result well before we went to the polls).

Nevertheless, only the voters can restore sensible policies.

Even if the Republicans control Congress next year, their ability to change policies will be limited; and change takes time. There are some dark days ahead of us. — William Urban

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David Amor, Knox County Board District 2

World wide inflation not simply Biden's policies

As Fed Chairman Yellen pointed out to Congress, the past year’s rise in inflation is occurring across much of the world, including Europe, so it is certainly not simply a result of President Biden’s policies, such as the American Rescue Plan.  And even if it were, curtailing government spending programs would not begin to address the scope of the problem. 

It’s also clear that it is price rises for material things — consumer and producer goods and commodities — that account for the bulk of the inflation we are experiencing, rather than wage increases or the cost of services. Several phenomena have combined to create this inflationary situation — changed patterns of consumer discretionary spending under COVID, the severe disruption to global supply changes initially due to COVID but proving frustratingly complex to unfreeze, and the effects of necessary but costly moves to repatriate manufacturing that many countries are rushing to enact. I’m afraid these will need to work themselves out before federal interventions will have much effect beyond the Fed’s current and future rounds of interest hikes. And all this is exacerbated by some businesses — international shipping, Big Oil and others — taking advantage to gouge prices while they can. — David Amor

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Charlie Gruner

Biden, Democrats largely responsible for inflation

Despite his denials, President Biden’s Administration and his party are largely responsible for the current inflation. Earlier he denied that inflation was happening even though most of us could see it. Then he said inflation was a good thing; he blamed it on everyone but himself, his administration or his party. He continues to claim that he’s created more jobs than anyone, although we haven’t recovered all the jobs that were lost with COVID shutdowns.

Trillions of dollars were spent, devaluing the dollar. As I write this gas is $5 or more per gallon. Biden himself said that was what he wanted “for the environment.” On several occasions he stated that he wants us all to be using electric cars, even though the builders of these cars say there is not enough electric-generating capacity in the country to provide power for a fraction of the what they expect to build. — Charlie Gruner

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Lizzie Wicks

Biden hasn't done anything so far to ease inflation

Joe Biden is partly responsible for the current inflation because he hasn't done anything thus far to ease the pressure. However, factors such as traveling season, oil sanctions, a pandemic and the Ukranian-Russian war are responsible as well. The United States is not the only country experiencing inflation. Because inflation is bound to happen economically, Biden should be prepared to face it. He can urge Congress to raise wages, not prices. He can use an executive order to heavily tax any corporation that price gouges. Because this situation looks more and more similar to a recession, Biden should model his solution after FDR's, since it's been proven that it works. — Liz Wicks

John Hunigan

NAFTA changes, America First policies also contributed

There are multiple reasons why inflation has risen to this level. It's not all of President Biden's fault. There are several factors that cause inflation such as supply chain, increased wages, the cost to manufacture some goods, and most notably sheer greed. The actual data doesn't support the fact that the economy was stronger under the previous administration. Under Trump, there was record unemployment and a dramatic increase in the national deficit. Trump's revision to NAFTA and the "America First" initiative has also been cited as causing some of the economic chaos we are experiencing today.

Gov. Abbott of Texas deliberately interrupted the supply chain and the delivery of goods coming into Texas. He forced all trucks coming through Mexico to be inspected which caused delays for hours and days. Produce that was carried by these trucks often spoiled which created a shortage. President Biden can enforce the Defense Production Act to help, but we must also hold politicians accountable who are intentionally worsening these issues for political points. — John Hunigan 

Harry Bulkeley

Biden has assured us it's not his fault

Joe has told us inflation is not his fault so we have to believe him, right? Forget that $1.9 trillion spending bill he signed despite the economists who told him it would cause inflation. “It’s transitory and it won’t cost anything,” he assured us.

Gas prices aren’t his fault either. Even though they were climbing before Putin invaded Ukraine, it’s all Putin’s fault. Putin invaded even though Joe clearly told him that if it was a “minor incursion,” no biggie.

Faultless Joe imposed sanctions on Russia. “That’ll show ‘em.” he declared. Except that the ruble is worth more against the dollar than it was when sanctions were imposed. Another great accomplishment of our wise leader.

Suggesting Joe caused inflation is disinformation. Besides, Joe has assured us he has a plan to fight inflation. His genius plan is “to bring down prices.” That’ll do it. Why didn’t I think of that? — Harry Bulkeley

Stephen Podwojski

Biden has some responsibility, but causes are many

There are a myriad of reasons for the current inflation rate. Yes, Biden has to take some of the responsibility. Inflation was happening to gas prices well before Ukraine. Inflation was at an all time low in May of 2020. Recall though, the nation was shut down and consumer spending was non-existent for gas, travel and leisure experiences.  In 2020, there were trillions of dollars saturating the economy from Congress with stimulus checks. The Fed’s continuation of printing money and low interest rates continued to assist in the uptick of inflation. 

Under Trump, $4 trillion flooded into everyone’s pockets. Inflation was already showing up in January/February of 2021. The American Rescue Plan ($1.9 trillion) hit in May of 2021 adding more money to hyper stimulate the economy (and inflation). That cash infusion/purchase power further assisted in shorting the supply chains that were already at danger low levels. Then the Fed just didn’t respond fast enough. And then the Putin’s Ukraine invasion kicked in to further elevate the cost of oil. You also have to blame corporations using inflation to excessively hike prices. Corporations are posting their best financial results far outpacing growth for many as far back as the 1950s. Plenty of “blame” to go around. Don’t simplify it with a slogan.  — Stephen Podwojski 

The Community Roundtable runs each Sunday and is made up of local writers. Community writers answer one question each week in 150 words or fewer.