Note: If you find my posts too long or too dense to read on occasion, please just read the bolded portions. They present the key points I’m making and the most important information I’m sharing.
President Biden gave an important speech last Tuesday on the economy, including both the good news and an update on the fight against inflation. However, I saw very little coverage of the speech in the mainstream media. Here are some highlights:
- 3 million jobs have been added to the economy in the first 15 months of Biden’s presidency – a record.
- The unemployment rate is down to 3.6%.
- 4 million new businesses were started in 2021 – 20% more than any other year on record.
- The federal deficit declined $350 billion last year and is projected to decline by $1.5 trillion this fiscal year – which would be the biggest decline in history. Biden noted that this will decrease inflationary pressures. This quarter the U.S. will actually have a surplus and will reduce the accumulated federal debt. This is the first time this has happened since the Clinton presidency in 2000. (Note that under President Trump, who pledged to reduce the debt, it instead grew by $8 trillion [40%] – from $19.6 trillion to $27.5 trillion. The growth of the debt in Trump’s last year was almost $5 trillion, while in Biden’s first year it was $2 trillion.)
Biden stated that inflation is a serious problem and that reducing it and its impact on families will be his top priority. It is a major problem worldwide and the strength of the U.S. economy has put us in a better position to deal with it than almost any other country. It is driven by supply chain problems and the war in Ukraine that have put supply and demand out of synch. (Why Biden didn’t include corporate price gouging I don’t know. More on this in my next post.) He noted that 60% of inflation in March was due to gasoline prices. Food prices are up in part because Ukraine and Russia are major producers of wheat and corn. However, their shipments of these food supplies have effectively stopped. The Biden Administration and European allies are working to get the 20 – 30 million tons of grain in Ukrainian silos shipped out and into world markets. Biden also noted that four meat processors control the U.S. market and set meat prices. The Administration is working to increase competition in the meat industry as well as elsewhere. Biden repeated his statement that “capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation.”
The Biden Administration has also worked with allies to release 240 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves to increase supply and put downward pressure on prices. Biden noted that the price of a barrel of oil has been steady for weeks but that gas prices have continued to go up. In addition, the Administration is working to increase domestic oil production, the production of biofuels, and the generation of clean energy. These steps could reduce household utility bills by up to $500 per year. (Note that the big oil corporations are not responding to requests to increase oil production, presumably because low supplies and high prices fuel high profits for them.)
The Biden Administration has been fighting to decrease other costs for families in addition to those of food and gas. It has asked for authority to negotiate drug prices in Medicare and cap the price of insulin. However, the U.S. Senate has not passed these proposals. It is tackling supply chain problems by working with labor and port operators to speed up the movement of goods at ports. It has also been working with trucking companies and truckers to speed up the movement of goods to markets.