In a recent op-ed, President Biden attempted to lay out a three-part strategy to tackle inflation and rising gas prices and move America “from recovery to stable, steady growth.” The truth is that his solutions will only make the inflation crisis worse, and he knows it. I’m not surprised he angrily lambasted during his speech at the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia those who oppose him and identified the consequences of his reckless spending spree, defiantly saying his policies are “changing people’s life”. And I can only laugh when he dismissed a reporter’s question about a recession by saying, “Now you sound like a Republican politician.”
The President received an economy poised to thrive after Covid thanks to the success of President Trump’s historic vaccine development effort. But during his first days in office, Biden later fired the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, stripped the name, slowly reopened and blamed the resulting economic stagnation directly at the feet of President Donald Trump.
Instead of encouraging businesses to reopen and Americans to get back to normal, the president paid workers $2,800 to stay home, tried (and failed) to impose a vaccination mandate to private businesses with 100 or more employees and encouraged states to close businesses. and imposing strict mask mandates while simultaneously criticizing Republican governors who have refused to do the same. On that last point, it was the Republican-led states that led the nation with the strongest recoveries.
The president promised the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) would create 4 million new jobs, championing him as the force behind “the most robust recovery in modern history.” Well, according to a December 2021 jobs report, ARPA actually resulted in less job creation and is one of the main drivers of inflation in which the country is mired.
President Biden’s plan to fight inflation, by shifting responsibility to the Federal Reserve, raising taxes and embracing his Build Back Better program, is wrong. These actions curry favor with his base but will not fix our supply chains, ease price pressures or reduce the federal deficit. Supply chain issues will persist as long as we continue to overly rely on China, gas prices will remain high as long as its administration wages a war on US energy and, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Build program Back Better would add more than $160 billion to the budget deficit, far more disastrous than ARPA.
Biden asserted in his op-ed that he “will work with anyone – Democrat, Republican, or independent – willing to have an open and honest discussion that will bring real solutions to the American people.” But does anyone really believe it at this point? Pointing fingers won’t solve anything, so I’m going to play along with his bipartisan rhetoric and offer some real solutions to deal with the economic crisis.
First, end the war on US energy companies and encourage more investment in domestic oil and natural gas production. Instead of pressuring the oil and gas industry to cap prices, which, as we saw with the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, only decreases production, the president should streamline the process permitting federal lands and allowing projects like the Keystone XL pipeline to continue. This will not only create thousands of well-paying jobs at a time when Americans need them most, but will also reduce our dependence on our adversaries’ oil.
Second, address the labor shortage by investing in domestic manufacturing. Manufacturing has lost 7.5 million jobs since its peak in 1969, the largest decline between 2000 and 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. manufacturers is one way to reverse this trend.
Congress and the administration could work together to make permanent the 100% bonus depreciation credit passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which should begin to phase out at the end by 2022. The Tax Foundation estimates that making the TCJA premium amortization provision permanent would result in higher wages, a bigger economy, and 172,300 new full-time jobs.
Finally, take the end of reckless spending seriously. Since taking office less than two years ago, the president: Added $1.9 trillion in debt through the passage of ARPA, lobbied Congress to pass the Build Back program Better by $2.15 trillion, backed the federal debt ceiling increase, and is set to forgive loans to millions of borrowers. Inflationary pressures will only get worse if we don’t do our best to curb reckless spending.
Voters are tired of paying more at the pump and at the grocery store, and want leaders who will work for to fix inflation, not work to keep it running. I hope President Biden will consider these proposals to deliver real solutions for American businesses and families.
Scott Fitzgerald represents Wisconsin’s 5th district.