Inflation's Cause: Putin or Biden?

How the US Media Sees Soaring Inflation Rates
US President Joe Biden is struggling to help ease surging prices hurting American familes and damaging his popularity. Credit: Jim WATSON (AFP)

Recently, many editorials of leading American newspapers criticized President Joe Biden for his repeated claims that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was the main cause for the staggering inflation that has hit the US for the first time since the 1970s. Biden has been personal by putting the burden on Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him names like “criminal”.

Curiously, “The Washington Post,” the most influential daily newspaper, sided with Biden, following continuous support for other Biden’s agendas, like confronting Russia, confronting China, relaxing immigration rules and supporting Blacks’ racial complaints against Whites.

“The New York Times,” also a liberal publication, has been less progressive and has expressed doubts about Biden’s confrontation with Russia.

Needless to say, conservative major dailies, like “The Wall Street Journal”, have been strongly blaming Biden, not Putin, for the rapidly rising inflation.

Last week, the US hit another uncomfortable milestone: $5 gas per gallon is now the norm. More than 20 states have prices above the $5 mark (California is above $6 a gallon). Inflation is at a four-decade high, and interest rates are rising at a pace not seen in two decades.

A recent Associated Press poll showed that “Americans are becoming less supportive of punishing Russia for launching its invasion of Ukraine if it comes at the expense of the U.S. economy”.

In the poll, 45 percent supported sanctioning Russia, while slightly more — 51 percent — said the sanctioning shouldn’t damage the U.S. economy.

US President Joe Biden (R, pictured May 2022) has given his full backing to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's efforts to cool inflation by raising borrowing costs. Credit: SAUL LOEB AFP/File

Two months earlier, “those figures were exactly reversed”, according to AP, and future polls are expected to lean furthermore towards curing the American economy than supporting Ukraine. “The (recent) poll shows low faith in Biden to handle the situation and an overall approval rating that hit the lowest point of his presidency,” according to AP.

Following are excerpts from editorials of a few leading American newspapers, including that of “The Washington Post”.

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“New York Post”: “Biden’s Fault”:

“Hand it to President Joe Biden, he can still send the press corps haring off after an irrelevant comment, as he did by blaming inflation on Vladimir Putin’s ‘genocide’ in Ukraine.

His statement, when he was visiting the state of Iowa, did what he was intended to do: made most of the media talk about ‘genocide’ in Ukraine, instead of his big lie that he shouldn’t be blamed for inflation …

Biden is cynically using Putin to distract from his colossal domestic failures.

Saying ‘genocide’ doesn’t change US policy on Russia’s war on Ukraine. And does not distract Americans from all the financial bills that are rising a lot faster than their take-home pay …

That so much of the media fixated on the word ‘genocide’ is just another sign of how out of touch the nation’s ‘news’ industry has grown …”

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“Wall Street Journal”: “Not Putin”

“White House aides were (recently) out in force warning that inflation report would be ugly and blaming it on Vladimir Putin.

No doubt that beats blaming your own policies. But inflation didn’t wait to appear until the Ukraine invasion, and by now it will be hard to reduce …

The inflation trend began in earnest a year ago at the onset of Biden's Presidency. It has accelerated for most of the last 12 months …

That was long before Mr. Putin decided to invade. The timing reflects too much money chasing too few goods, owing mainly to the combination of vast federal spending and easy monetary policy …

Still, the overall price news is terrible for American workers and consumers. Real average weekly earnings have fallen by nearly $18 during the Biden Presidency. If you want to know why Americans are sour about the economy even as jobs are plentiful, this is it. Their real wages are falling while the prices of everyday goods and services are rising fast …”

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Grocery shoppers in Rosemead, California, last month. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

“The New York Times”: “Our Government”

“Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, has often expressed admiration for the resolve exhibited by one of his predecessors, Paul Volcker, who was willing to crash the economy in the early 1980s to drive down inflation …

There is a risk that by forgoing stronger measures now, the Fed will ultimately have to impose greater pain. But there are also good reasons to think that the Fed can succeed — not least because of the enduring legacy of Mr. Volcker’s achievement.

It is time to raise rates. The economy has rebounded as Covid-19 has loosened its grip. Under Mr. Volcker, the rate hit 20 percent …


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