As the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Markets Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday to consider the fate of American monetary policy, they should consider the plight of people like Roger Stephens. The retired airline mechanic who lives in a Los Angeles neighborhood recently told a reporter inflation is taking a toll on his lifestyle.
Referring to the president, he commented that “Uncle Joe has put us on a diet….I like to have steak once or twice a month. I can’t do it now.”
A Wall Street Journal poll out this week shows Stephens’ situation mirrors those of millions of families across the country. Out-of-control federal spending and loose monetary policy are definitely having an effect—but not in the way Democrats promised. While people like Joe Biden remain firmly ensconced in their palatial estates, the working class continues to suffer from the harmful effects of leftist policies.
The poll results should make for bracing reading for Democrats, because they show how the party’s policies have not only harmed the economy, but alienated their political base. For starters, notwithstanding the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, twice as many voters (50%) consider “inflation and the economy” the top priority for the president and Congress as the Ukraine conflict (25%). (Only 5 percent of voters consider Covid the top priority issue.)
Nonwhite voters (60%) listed inflation as a top priority by a higher margin than white voters (47%), quite possibly because they reported suffering from inflation’s effects in greater numbers. A total of 35% of non-white voters in the Journal poll said inflation is “creating major financial strains” for their family, compared to the same from 28% of white voters. African American women and Hispanic men demonstrated the highest rate of major financial strains for their families, at 44 percent.
Just as telling: “Almost half [of respondents] with incomes of less than $60,000 reported major financial strain, while just 13% of those making $150,000 or more did so.” In other words, while elites in Washington—home to some of the wealthiest counties in the United States—face little discomfort from skyrocketing prices, ordinary families are getting their proverbial teeth kicked in every time they head to the grocery store or try to fill up at the pump.
Democratic Base Fracturing
Little wonder then that people like Stephens, an African American who voted twice for Barack Obama, “said he was more likely to back Republicans than Democrats in this year’s [congressional] election.” He has plenty of company. The Journal poll found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of independent voters think the economy has gotten off on the wrong track; almost four in five Hispanics (78%) take that view.
Because nonwhite voters have soured on Biden’s economic policies, the Democratic coalition could face a crack-up come November. Democrats’ lead on the generic congressional ballot among African Americans has shrunk by a whopping 21 percentage points just in the four months since the Journal’s last poll. Just as surprising, Republicans now hold a nine-point lead among Hispanics, 46 percent to 37 percent.
The poll results should shock Democratic consultants who for years believed in the mantra of “demography is destiny”—that growth of non-white populations would guarantee them political power for years and decades to come. Doubtless those consultants didn’t anticipate the way Biden’s policies would crush working-class households of all colors, in a way that could cause them to abandon the Democratic Party.
SOS: Stop Over Spending
Over the past year-plus, voters have gotten a (re-)education in the fact that the left’s big-government policies end up harming the populations that leftists claim to want to help. Yet, while the American people have seen how government spending and printing money leads to sky-high inflation, most (but thankfully not all) Democratic lawmakers still want to ram a $5 trillion spending bill through Congress that would raise inflation still higher.
Here’s hoping that the Federal Reserve has—after more than a year of dithering—finally come to its senses. Beginning the process of raising interest rates, and shutting the (metaphorical) printing presses that have created money for the past two years of the pandemic, would begin the long process of restoring some stability into fiscal policy in Washington—and the budgets of ordinary American families.