Biden’s approval rating falls as inflation rises

A new survey by NPR/Marist places Joe Biden’s approval at 42 percent. That’s a new low for Biden in this particular poll.

37 percent of those surveyed strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance. Only 13 percent strongly approve.

At 42 percent, Biden’s approval number is exactly the same as the percentage that approves of the way he’s handling the economy. Clearly, “it’s the economy stupid.” Or maybe it’s the stupid way in which Biden is handling the economy.

Inflation is at the forefront of voter discontent with Biden. 39 percent of those surveyed name inflation as the most important economic concern. That’s more than twice the number — 17 percent — that cites wages. Labor shortages (11 percent) and unemployment (10 percent) come next. Labor shortages are part of what’s driving inflation.

I’m surprised the percentage citing inflation as the most important economic concern isn’t higher. As John noted earlier today, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll, 77 percent of Americans say inflation is affecting their lives. 51 percent say they’re worried they “won’t be able to afford what they need during the holidays due to inflation.” Notably, only 18 percent say Biden is doing enough to address inflation.

This survey was conducted before Biden ordered the release of 50 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This move will probably help bring down the price of gasoline a bit, and it shows that Biden is no longer oblivious to concerns about inflation. However, it’s not likely to bring down the overall inflation number by any significant degree.

Meanwhile, the two spending programs Biden has pushed — one of which was already enacted with some Republican support — will/would increase inflationary pressure. Biden claims that “17 Nobel Prize winners in economics have said that my plan will ease inflationary pressures.” But this statement is highly misleading.

As Ramesh Ponnuru points out, what these economists actually said is that Biden’s plan would “ease longer-term inflationary pressures.” Several of them admit the obvious — that by pumping more money into the economy, Biden’s program would increase inflation in 2022. Any downward pressure on prices would come later, due to hoped-for productivity increases.

Ponnuru argues that the hoped-for productivity increases are probably pie-in-the-sky. He cites the Penn Wharton Budget Model which estimates that the net effect of the Democrats’ bill on the economy, even in the very long term, will be negative.

I doubt that anyone really knows what the long-term effect of Biden’s program on inflation will/would be. But there’s little doubt that in the short-to-medium term, the effect will be inflationary.

The polls discussed above show that this is bad news for Joe Biden and his party. It might be better for them politically if Sens. Manchin and Sinema prevent passage of a reconciliation bill — the larger of the two spending packages.

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