It’s inflation, stupid

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — While the zero-in-chief tried to claim inflation was flat in July, consumer prices in fact soared 8.5%.

The consumer price index last month did dip slightly from June’s 41-year high of 9.1% and it was lower than economists expected, but inflation remains at historic highs. And it certainly isn’t zero, as President Joe Biden tried to insist.

“Today, we received news that our economy had 0% inflation in the month of July — 0%,” Biden said at a bill signing Wednesday. “Here’s what that means: while the price of some things go up — went up last month, the price of other things went down by the same amount. The result? Zero inflation last month.”

Not even close.

As the New York Post reported, Biden’s rosy spin on the latest inflation report was quickly called out as misleading by critics, especially after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted: “We just received news that our economy had 0% inflation in July. While the price of some things went up, the price of others, like gas, clothing, and more, dropped.”

“The Biden Administration has a tortured relationship with math,” joked Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) on Twitter.

“It’s a bogus math trick. This is the overall one-month index change. Overall that means that the big drop in fuel oil and gas (following previous massive monthly increases) swamped the huge increases everywhere else,” tweeted Jeffrey Tucker, president of the Brownstone Institute think tank.

Gas prices indeed have eased up since topping $5 a gallon nationally earlier this summer. The nationwide average on Wednesday was still at $4 a gallon, and $3.68 at Wisconsin’s pumps, according to AAA.

Declining gasoline prices have helped ease the monthly inflation index, but Americans are paying a lot more for a lot more of what they buy.

The basics are more expensive than ever.

Egg prices soared 47% from last July, according to a report in Bloomberg.

“The food-at-home category soared to 13.1% over the last year, the largest increase since the period ending March 1979, according to the US Labor Department on Wednesday,” the publication reported.

Overall, food prices are up 14% year over year through July, according to Information Resources Inc.

The index for other food at home rose 15.8%  and the index for cereals and bakery products increased 15% over the year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The remaining major grocery store food groups posted increases ranging from 9.3%  (fruits and vegetables) to 14.9% (dairy and related products).

Meanwhile, energy costs are up 33% on the year, while the costs for shelter, medical care, motor vehicle insurance, household furnishings and operations, new vehicles, and recreation continued to rise in July.

In the Midwest, including Wisconsin, consumer prices rose 8.8% year over year in July.

Real wages have plummeted since their high water growth rate mark of 6.4% in May 2020. Wages dropped 3% in July, according to preliminary figures from Labor Statistics.

The solution from Biden and congressional Democrats is spending more money, printing more money, and raising more money through sweeping taxes under the ill-named Inflation Reduction Act.

More than 230 economists have written to congress warning that the $433 billion in new government spending  will “create immediate inflationary pressures by boosting demand, while supply-side tax hikes would constrain supply by discouraging investment and draining the private sector of much-needed resources.”

As U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) noted this week,  The Penn Wharton Budget Model, the Tax Foundation, and the Congressional Budget Office all found the bill won’t lower inflation and may make it worse. At the same time, the legislation aims to double the size of the Internal Revenue Service, bolstering its army of agents by 87,000 staffers.

“This bill will not only raise the burden Americans will bear from business tax increases but it will also supercharge the IRS to go after American families at a time when many are simply struggling to pay their bills,” Johnson said. “Giving bad policies a nice name will not prevent the harm they will inflict on us all.”

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