“Most Americans doubt their children will be better off.” This is the headline on a major Wall Street Journal article today about a WSJ-NORC poll. The subhead reads: “Dim view of economy underpins pessimism about future and record-low happiness in U.S.” NORC, by the way, is the University of Chicago’s nonpartisan research group.
It’s the kind of headline I hate to see because I’m a congenital optimist, but I know big-time pessimism is out there. I also know that I’m going to sound partisan, but my own view is that President Biden owns this pessimism, the same way he owns the inflation that is haunting middle-class working people.
It was his massive spending, which really continues to this day, that caused the inflation that is the cruelest tax of all, to paraphrase Maynard Keynes. On spending, a major Wall Street firm just estimated Mr. Biden’s badly misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” would come in at a cost of $1.2 trillion, three times the CBO estimate. Spending on electric vehicles is expected to total $393 billion, 28 times what the Joint Committee on Taxation projected and bigger than the entire JTC/CBO print.
That’s just one example of the frenzied spending.
Consumer prices during Mr. Biden’s presidency are up 14.4 percent. February’s inflation ran at nearly triple the rate of the year before the pandemic began. Grocery prices up 20 percent. Gasoline up 35 percent. Utility services up 41 percent. New cars 19 percent. Used cars 22 percent. Housing services up 13 percent. And on and on.
In the NORC poll, nearly two-thirds said inflation is a major concern, and roughly four in 10 cited healthcare and housing costs. Despite low unemployment, there’s anxiety about the job market. Almost half said their finances are worse than expected. More than half have lost faith in the power of an education.
Just 12 percent describe themselves as “very happy,” the lowest share on record since NORC began asking the question every few years starting in 1972. What’s going on here is that the Biden administration has not generated any confidence in its ability to steward economic prosperity, both now and in the future.
I also believe Mr. Biden owns the banking problem, because the original sin of his bailouts was skyrocketing inflation — which ultimately led to huge interest rate increases and have sent a major shiver throughout banks all around the world.
On that point, working people do not like the bank bailouts one bit. They know the privileged few will get these bailouts, and they also know they’re going to have to pay for it, and they are already up to their eyeballs in taxes and household payments.
The Biden banking crisis came after this poll was taken, but it is included in the AP-NORC poll we discussed last night that showed Mr. Biden’s numbers plunging.
You can go back to the Founders, and the Declaration of Independence, to remember the importance of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Mr. Biden is not pursuing happiness. He’s pursuing a far-left ideological agenda. It can be summarized by the phrase “limitless government.”
Bailouts, subsidies, taxes, regulations, social benefits, cancel culture, diversity, equity and inclusion, ESG investing, and on and on. What’s missing is freedom. What’s missing is even a modest nod to capitalism, which is the most successful economic system ever known to mankind.
I mean, it’s not enough for the Bidens to say, “We need to work toward some vision of renewable energy.” No, they have to set out to destroy fossil fuels. We should be growing the energy pie, not destroying 75 percent of existing energy. That’s just one example.
Indeed, we should be growing the whole economic pie, not just punishing one side versus another. Or tossing around phrases like oppressors, or price-gougers, or evil rich people.
Finally, think about this: It just kind of seems like the Bidens want to take away all sorts of things that so many Americans are used to and like because they work. Know what I’m talking about?
The latest one is air conditioners. No good. Before that it was gas-burning stoves. No good. Before that it was toilets, and showerheads, and gasoline-powered cars.
People like this stuff, and they should have choices. Mr. Biden wants to jam it down their throats. That’s called command-and-control government, central planning, and socialism.
No wonder folks are so pessimistic. They yearn for the freedom that brings prosperity and happiness.
From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox Business News.
Larry Kudlow was the Director of the National Economic Council under President Trump from 2018-2021. His Fox Business show "Kudlow" airs at 4 p.m &. and his radio show airs on 770 ABC from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.