Washington’s Loosing Battle With Inflation

What you saw yesterday in the Stock Market was the growing frustration that Washington has no answers to address Inflation. As Zero Hedge headlined: this was the 27 month in a row that Inflation was higher than the month before. For many on Wall Street, there appears to be no end to these rising prices. And worst still, this President doesn’t seem to have a clue.

Since he took office, Joe Biden has been long on promises and short on delivery when it comes to price stability. His economic policy has been particularly dismal. His oil war was particularly hurtful. I need to mention only such moves as canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline, delaying and canceling all Federal Land leases, and especially the Russian Oil Embargo. Each of those actions directly increased the price of oil and gas for the American consumer. Energy is the most significant single component of this Inflation.

As President, Joe Biden has had four significant pieces of economic legislation pass congress and become law. Let’s take a brief look at each of them, with a particular eye on how they impact Inflation.

The first central economic Act was the American Rescue Plan, signed into law in March 2021 and considered by most economists as the most extensive direct social welfare program since the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s. This Act provided most of us with a $1,400 check. I was amazed when I received it in the mail.

However, no matter how well-meaning you might consider this action. There is little doubt that this was a significant contributor to higher Inflation. Costing $1.9Trillion, it was part of that $5 Trillion jump in the money supply that we have discussed. From my point of view, this unwarranted money printing was the principal cause of today’s Inflation.

The following two signature pieces of economic legislation are so similar that we’ll combine them for our discussion. Both have very long-term goals. And while they may be laudable, I think you’ll agree that they will have little impact on today’s economy.

The first of these Acts is the Chips and Science Act. It addresses the number of semiconductor chips currently produced overseas. This Act will provide funds for research and development in Science and Technology. The second of these Acts is the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. This Act will give funds to rebuild American infrastructure, highways, railroads, water facilities, and more. The Act is another long-range program that will take years to develop.

So I score those two programs: the Chips and Science Act and the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, as essentially neutral. Depending upon their efficient implementation, they may be marginally beneficial going forward. However, they do increase Federal Government Spending at a time when that is problematic.

No matter how you slice it, these two acts will not help reduce Inflation today.

We now come to the final Biden Administration Economic Legislation: the law with the perfect name: The Inflation Reduction Act. Passed less than a month ago, this would seem the answer to all our problems. Whoever came up with that title knew how to hit our hot button.

Unfortunately, if there was a piece of legislation that did not fit its title, this is it. There are five parts to the Act: two health insurance, one environmental, and two tax collecting.

As for the two health insurance components, today’s Inflation does not come from health costs. Yes, medical care expense is rising, but all health costs combined would make up less than 1/10th of the impact of food and energy. So, again, while there may be some downstream benefit to medical subsidies, it is very marginal. Not something that will have any real impact on curbing today’s Inflation.

The following provision in the Inflation Reduction Act is environmental. And as you would suppose, this has all the requisite subsidies for green energy that you would expect.

But then comes the provision that every oil and gas company hates—the requirement to reduce carbon emissions. I have not yet seen the final iteration of this part of the Act. But to the degree of penalties on traditional fossil fuel production, this part of the Act could add to Inflation by raising standard energy costs even more.

Finally, the Act provides two ways to raise taxes, or as they like to say in Washington, enhance revenue.

First, it gives the IRS more funding. As you’ve read, there are more funds to hire those 80k plus new IRS Agents.

And the second part is to raise corporate taxes.

I don’t see how either one of these is an effective way to fight Inflation. And may depress commercial activity as businesses and individuals consider tax avoidance a priority instead of new business development.

So, if I were to score these three signature pieces of Biden’s economic legislation, I would call them well wide of the mark. It’s not just that they are most likely highly ineffective in fighting Inflation. It’s that they don’t even try. Once you get past the Titles, you find the standard Biden fare of pet projects, green subsidies, the new version of Obama-care, and a requisite number of pork projects to satisfy the local constituents.

And don’t think that this is going unnoticed.

Wall Street is increasingly frustrated. There is a growing conviction that this President doesn’t have a clue about economic policy in general and fighting Inflation in particular.

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