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EDITORIAL: More bull from President Biden on inflation

Inflation envelops the White House like a bad smell. Perhaps that’s one reason President Joe Biden can’t stop fibbing about it.

For the second time in a week, Mr. Biden repeated the false claim that inflation was at 9 percent when he entered the Oval Office in January 2021. The president first made the assertion in a May 8 CNN interview. “No president’s had the run we’ve had in terms of creating jobs and bringing down inflation,” he said. “It was 9 percent when I came to office, 9 percent.” On Tuesday, Mr. Biden told Yahoo Finance, “I think inflation has gone slightly up (of late). It was at 9 percent when I came in, and it’s now down around 3 percent.”

For the record, the annual inflation rate when the president was inaugurated was 1.4 percent. Sixteen months later, with Mr. Biden firmly ensconced in the presidency, it had soared to 9 percent, the highest in nearly four decades. It has since receded to around 3.5 percent.

A White House official brushed off Mr. Biden’s delusional nonsense by telling CNN in an email that, “The president was making the point that the factors that caused inflation were in place when he took office.” But that’s not what Mr. Biden said. And if it is what he meant, it doesn’t inspire confidence in members of his economic team, who failed to recognize those “factors” and repeatedly described rising prices as “transitory.” Recall how the president famously insisted six months into his term that “There’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way — no serious economist.”

In addition to blaming Donald Trump for higher prices, Mr. Biden, along with congressional Democrats, has pointed the finger at “corporate greed.” This is also fiction. A paper released this week by analysts at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco concludes that “price markups” have “generally remained flat, in line with previous economic recoveries over the past three decades. These patterns suggest that markup fluctuations have not been a main driver of the ups and downs of inflation during the post-pandemic recovery.”

Inflation, even as it eases, is crippling Mr. Biden’s re-election chances as Americans grapple with persistently higher prices for everyday staples. The president’s response has been to point fingers. The White House is “desperate to blame someone or something for inflation,” Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments, told CNN. “Blaming greedy corporations is just looking for scapegoats.”

Mr. Biden and his defenders remain at a loss as to why voters haven’t warmed to the wonders of Bidenomics. That the president feels the need to sling unadulterated bull about higher prices speaks volumes.

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