Inflation, vaccines, voting rights: Biden faces brick walls

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These developments underscore that presidents, for all they can do on their own, are blocked in big business by the other branches of government.

A Supreme Court with a strong majority of Republican-appointed justices has no interest in imposing restrictions on businesses.

A tightly divided Senate is crippled by its traditions.

It is the inflation news that could be the most damaging for Biden.

Ordinary people may not be hooked on the latest developments in voting rights. But they see the prices going up. They face the empty shelves of grocery stores. They may be nervous about going to work as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus tears the country apart.

They wonder what is going on.

Where are the races? Images on social media of empty grocery store shelves are startling. CNN’s Parija Kavilanz writes that it’s not that there is no food. It’s because stores are struggling to put it on the shelves. There are labor shortages and transportation problems. And people are making food at home rather than going to restaurants.
Consider the grocery store worker. CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn looks at an industry where working from home isn’t possible, where it’s been difficult for stores to find clerks, and where some stores have had to limit hours. He spoke to Sam Dancy, supervisor and shop steward at the QFC supermarket chain in Seattle. From the report:

Two weeks ago, (Dancy) worked on a busy Sunday when the store was understaffed. It was “the first time in 30 years that I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can and I want to do this anymore.'”

RELATED: More than 8,000 workers are on strike at 77 Denver-area grocery stores
For a sense of the mercurial nature of inflation during the pandemic, read this report by CNN’s Chris Isidore and Allison Morrow.

Why can’t Biden or Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell just solve this problem? Isidore and Morrow write:

Many of the increases are the result of global market forces, such as rising energy prices or global supply chain issues limiting the availability of parts needed to manufacture consumer goods. The limited supply of new and used cars, due in large part to a shortage of computer chips, has led to record car prices – a major factor pushing up overall prices.

Eco 101. While meat and some other prices have started to fall, the current perception is of rising prices, not falling. Government relief measures, write Isidore and Morrow, put more money in the hands of consumers, creating more demand at the same time as supply chains were blocked by the pandemic.

“High demand plus limited supply is the Econ 101 definition of what leads to higher prices,” they write.

There is more.

Energy prices are up from a year ago, and these costs to businesses are being passed on to consumers.

A labor shortage leads to higher wages, which could drive up prices even further.

Inflation is bad. Corn it was worse. In a separate story, Isidore notes that despite the current bad inflation, it is still well below the crippling price increases of the 1970s, leaving a one-term president from each party in his path.

Isidore writes: Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter both tried unsuccessfully to rein in prices. Ford’s efforts included a “Whip Inflation Now” or WIN campaign, with glowing red buttons, which did little to help prices. Inflation hit 12.2% at the end of 1974 shortly after he took office, nearly double the annual rate of increase through November last year.

The nightmare scenario. CNN’s Paul La Monica writes that “stagflation” is now a real possibility. This is when there is a stagnant economy but prices continue to inflate.

A severe case of these economic crosswinds nearly sank Carter’s re-election bid. In a stagflation scenario, the government can do even less. Government spending only creates more inflation. Reducing government spending only slows down the economy.

For now, the economy continues to grow at a healthy pace. And I hope the Omicron induces the downturn will be brief, the supply chain will continue to run amok, and most people won’t have to worry about groceries as much.

Pay attention to Costco parking lots. CNN’s Maeve Reston covered the Costco parking lot in Reno, Nevada, and spoke to people frustrated with rising gas prices — it costs $145 instead of 0 to fill a van — and are forgoing things at the box store.

“There is nothing more fundamental than struggling to feed a family,” write Reston and Stephen Collinson, foreshadowing an election in which Democrats are set to lose one or both majorities on Capitol Hill.

“Voter testimony in Nevada recalls evidence from the Virginia gubernatorial race when Republican Glenn Youngkin won a shock victory by listening to what voters were saying about education and the cost of groceries, while Democrats were running against former President Trump’s extremism,” they write.

The irony is painful for Democrats. They’ve been blocked by Republicans and a handful of them passing the more ambitious social elements of Biden’s agenda — like universal pre-kindergarten, child care assistance and a credit. improved child tax – which could help free up money for groceries.

Republicans, poised to win over economic discontent, want none of that direct support.

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