AMAC Exclusive – By Claire Brighn
Tuesday night, President Joe Biden will deliver his first State of the Union Address to a country reeling not just from the latest foreign policy fiasco in Ukraine but also historic inflation and rising costs on everything from a gallon of milk to a new car. Amidst this backdrop, the President will try and convince Americans that things haven’t really been that bad and that they will undoubtedly soon get better. But Biden’s record of broken promises and failed policies gives people little reason to buy that narrative.
Biden’s remarks, just one of a handful of major speeches the president has given more than one year into his term, are likely to be filled with a number of rosy predictions that economic measures like inflation and gas prices – which have been dismal for most of his presidency – will soon get better thanks to his administration’s policies. But wait – haven’t Americans heard this one before? In December, with inflation nearing a 40 year high, Biden said, “I think it’s the peak of the crisis.” This comment came after multiple Biden officials repeated the line that inflation was “transitory.” On gas prices, Biden also said in December, “I think you’ll see…prices of gas pump come down” after he tapped the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The truth, however, turned out to be quite different. In January, the consumer price index rose to 7.5 percent, which was even more than expected, and the highest since 1982. In other words, inflation is certainly not “transitory” and is a major problem for millions of American households, as much as the Biden administration would like to ignore it. The Penn Wharton Budget Model found at the end of last year that inflation cost American households an extra $3,500 on average. And heating costs, as predicted, shot up 30 percent during the coldest months of winter. Real hourly wages – accounting for inflation – plummeted roughly 2.4 percent year-over-year.
Biden’s prediction on gas prices has proven even more inaccurate. Brent crude, for example, is nearing almost $100 a barrel, and gas is closing in on $4 a gallon. Experts warn both measures could shoot up even further and that gas could go over $5 a gallon this summer. In response, Biden said he wants to work with oil-producing countries to “blunt gas prices” and “limit the pain Americans feel at the gas pump.” But according to Jen Psaki just last week, there wasn’t “anything to detail” on whether Biden will reverse his policies and bolster the American energy sector. Translation? Biden has zero plan to deal with the problem.
As these crises have worsened, Biden has blamed everything from “the pandemic” to “climate change” to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, going to great lengths to obscure his role in perpetrating the hardships Americans are facing. Now unable to ignore reality any longer, Biden has made a strategic shift to “empathy.” He recently said that he “grew up in a family where the price at the pump was felt in the kitchen,” as if that’s any consolation to the American families who are now struggling to put food on the table.
At the same time, the rest of his administration often seems oblivious to the fact that Americans are even hurting economically. Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain suggested last year that inflation was a “high-class problem.” When asked about rising gas prices as a result of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed that “standing up for our values is not without cost.” That may be true – but ignores the fact that $5 per gallon gas is a completely unnecessary cost imposed by Biden’s own poor decisions.
Indeed, the Ukraine-Russia crisis has brought into full focus just how disastrous Biden’s energy policies have been, not just for national security but also for Americans’ pocketbooks. After finally achieving energy independence under President Trump, the United States was no longer reliant on energy imports from other countries – like Russia – that could be jeopardized by the geopolitical conflict. Once Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline and issued a number of Executive Orders targeting the American energy sector, however, that independence was soon lost. Now, even as Biden tries to put up the front of “hitting Russia hard” with sanctions, the U.S. is still reliant on imports of 600,000 barrels of oil from Russia every day on average. By capitulating to a small cadre of woke environmentalists, Biden has ceded every negotiating chip he had to both protect American interests and keep gas prices low for the American people.
Biden himself has at times seemed unable to grasp how his own decisions have created the very problems he now faces. Even as Biden began to come around and realize that inflation was a real problem, he continued to push Congress to pass his Build Back Better Act, which experts predicted would have only worsened inflation, raised taxes on the middle class, and added hundreds of billions to the deficit. Still, don’t be surprised if Biden pushes Congress to pass several major portions of this bill as separate smaller but equally dangerous bills.
Despite this obvious record of failure, Democrats are already gearing up to treat Biden as a conquering hero. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated as much in her letter inviting Biden to give the address, saying that thus far, Biden’s leadership has “guided America out crisis and into an era of progress.” But for someone who tore up Trump’s State of the Union speech in 2020 in a shocking display pique, perhaps Pelosi’s apparent confusion about how things are really going isn’t so surprising. If only the American people were as willing as Pelosi and the Democratic Party to break with reality, maybe Biden would have a fighting chance of convincing someone other than the Democrats seated before him that his tenure has been anything but a failure.
Claire Brighn is the pen name of a conservative researcher and writer with previous domestic and foreign policy experience in the Executive Branch.