With inflation heading toward the 9% mark and gasoline at record-high prices, President Joe Biden risks going down in history as the man who both surpassed former President Donald Trump’s general disapproval ratings and whose stewardship of the economy ranks lower than Presidents Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover.
Biden might complain that history dealt him a poor hand. He exaggerates. The pandemic caused a sharp recession, but booms follow busts unless poor government decisions interfere. Biden also inherited not one but three vaccines. He can blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for sharp inflation, but Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine did not occur in a vacuum: Biden’s self-inflicted humiliation in Afghanistan surely played into the Kremlin’s calculus and sense of impunity.
The fact: The buck stops with Biden, even if inflation makes that buck worth far less than a year ago.
Printing trillions of extra dollars has consequences, but it needn’t be this bad. Among Biden’s first appointments was John Kerry as the first Cabinet-level climate envoy. Politically, it was a risky move. There was the bipartisan consensus when Kerry was a senator that he was the body’s most arrogant and condescending member. Kerry looks down on Biden and believes he would make a better president. As a former secretary of state, Kerry also was loath to accept lower stature or power.
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