Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Biden should do the unthinkable

President Joe Biden and his administration have faced an internal dilemma for months now. With inflation and gas prices being the main concerns of voters, there is an urgent need to show voters that they care about the issue and are doing everything they can to thwart the problem. Biden’s approval ratings are historically poor, and much of that has been attributed to these issues. The administration is aware of the uncomfortable reality that there is virtually nothing Biden can do to combat inflation and high gas prices. They have unfortunately tried what they can, releasing oil reserves for example, but there really is no executive solution, and any makeshift attempt to fix the problem would simply have worse consequences.

That leaves Biden with two options, both of which are terrible. First, he can admit that he can do next to nothing to reverse what are, indeed, global problems. Or, at the risk of sounding inattentive, Biden can continue to assert that he can and will drive down gas prices and inflation. Biden should pick the former.

It’s never good to give the American public a false sense of security, or deceive them of their abilities, especially given Biden’s promise to be candid with the American people. Instead, he should explain to the public how rising gas prices, as well as inflation, are global issues. For example, the UK is experiencing its highest inflation rate in 40 years. Explain that the bulk of the problems are the result of the pandemic (which has damaged supply chains), Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, big oil companies insisting on maximizing profits, and an increase demand for oil and other commodities as the pandemic recedes.

While an admittedly risky strategy, Biden could have political advantages in admitting that nothing he does will substantially solve the problem. Voters already have a false perception of the power of the presidency, often assuming that the individual in office has far more immediate power and influence than they actually have. This problem is compounded when the president claims to have an ability he really knows he doesn’t have, as is the case with Biden. He had previously made comments insinuating, or outright saying, that his actions would lead to lower gas prices and a slowing rate of inflation. When he does this, voters rightly attribute this power to him. Then, when gas prices and the consumer price index do not go down, he is blamed. If Biden told Americans the reality of the extent of his power, it would be harder for Americans to falsely blame him.

Thankfully, lately, we’ve seen just that: more truth. While not a complete transition to an outspoken rhetoric about his lack of ability, Biden and administration officials have begun to make it increasingly clear that this issue is out of Biden’s hands. . “There’s a lot going on right now, but the idea that we’re going to be able to flip a switch, get the cost of gas down, isn’t likely in the short term. It’s also not in when it comes to food,” Biden said recently, while also being careful to correctly point to the causes of the price hikes. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also recently joked that “gasoline prices are n ‘is not fixed by a dial in the Oval Office’. And Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm hit the nail on the head, noting that Biden is obsessed with gas prices and the fact that people suffer, but that “the president does not control the price.” Empathy and realism: two principles that should underpin the Biden administration’s messaging on inflation and gas prices.

None of this is to say that Biden should walk away from the issue. In fact, it should consider it, given its enormous political importance. Biden should focus on empathy, which is his strength, and let the American people know he understands the pain they are going through. Few economic problems are as easy to see as inflation and gas prices. While much of the economy is often overlooked by the average American who isn’t very engaged in political discussions, it’s not those issues.

Biden is expected to continue discussing how a strong economy provides the country with the necessary cushion to survive rising gas prices and inflation and should remind Americans that these issues are global – well beyond control. of a man, even of a country. Also, as is the crux of this argument, Biden should be candid, even if it means admitting a mistake. He should admit that the US bailout has played a role in the current inflationary pressures, although its impact is small compared to bigger issues. This role, however, pales in comparison to the benefits provided by the scheme, and it should also make that clear.

If and when small solutions present themselves, Biden should be quick to jump on them. Admitting reality does not mean sleeping behind the wheel. Finally, Biden should look for other ways to ease America’s economic pain, which he has the power to do.

When Biden pledged not to blame others and to take responsibility, he meant it. However, that doesn’t mean he should take undue blame, or assume a false sense of control over an issue, even if a majority of voters mistakenly believe the president has such power. Global inflation and rising gas prices are simply not a problem created by Joe Biden, and he should keep saying that.

Devon Hesano is a Opinion Columnist and can be reached at dehesano@umich.edu.

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