Give them some credit. They’re reporting on this when I’m very sure their friends in the Biden administration would prefer they didn’t. But let’s face it, this is the easiest possible story to write at this moment. You could write a new version of this story every couple of days between now and November, giving fresh examples of people who are getting hit hard by inflation.
[Kat] Johnston, 31, lives in the Dallas area in a studio apartment and had hoped to upgrade to a one-bedroom — her cat will occasionally use her bed as a litter box, so being able to shut the door would be good. Yet rent is increasing enough that she is considering moving in with a roommate instead.
Gas is so expensive that she is buying just a quarter of a tank at a time. Her $65,000 in student loans from undergraduate and graduate school were in forbearance before the pandemic because she was struggling to afford them on her roughly $40,000 annual income.
Racking up $65,000 in debt to get a full time job making $40,000 doesn’t seem like a great idea. The Times doesn’t say what she studied or what she’s doing now, only that she lost her previous job as a librarian, so it’s a safe bet she’s not an engineer or an accountant.
But the reality is that it hardly matters. No matter how much you’re making, your annual salary probably isn’t keeping up with inflation. For people who didn’t have much room in their budget to start with, that could mean hustling to maintain multiple jobs at once.
Matrice Moore-Carr, a registrar at a public hospital in Nashville, Tenn., kept her job during the pandemic, and even managed to get a bit ahead, thanks to stimulus checks that helped her pay off her electric bill and stop worrying, at least for a little while, about whether she could afford gas for her car.
When prices began to rise last year, Ms. Moore-Carr took on overtime shifts in the emergency room to make ends meet. When that wasn’t enough, she took a part-time job as a hotel receptionist. Now she is working seven days a week, often multiple jobs in one day, and still struggling to pay her bills…
“I don’t know what I’m going to do if anything gets any worse than it is now,” she said. “Am I going to have to cut my meals back? Am I going to have to eat once a day as opposed to three? I don’t know. It’s just tough.”
The only way out of this now is to slow the economy which inevitably means people are going to lose jobs or extra hours that are currently keeping them above water. In fact, it’s widely acknowledged that a recession is a real possibility, meaning lots of people will lose jobs. But unlike in 2020, handing out more government money would be counter-productive as it would make inflation worse and drag out the time it takes to bring it under control.
“I think we are starting to see indications that the good times are coming to an end for some people,” said Karen Dynan, a former Treasury Department chief economist who is now at Harvard University. “There will be some generalized pain.”
I get what she’s saying but the whole point of this story is that the pain isn’t generalized, it’s very specific. Some Americans are already on the brink of tough times and there’s every reason to think things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better. If you’re wondering why President Biden’s approval rating is in the toilet, this is the reason. He hasn’t reached rock bottom yet.
Update: Regular readers know the commenters at the Times are often pretty sharp and will correct opinion writers when the are missing the point. This isn’t an opinion piece but the responses leave a lot to be desired.
Yes we are in for a bumpy ride but blaming Biden is not the answer. If you all remember Trump was the president for four years and brought the pandemic to our shores by not stopping it head on and getting rid of all the people who knew it would be horrific. Economic slowdown is inevitable if you have been paying attention to everything. The war in Ukraine doesn’t help. Everything as usual is falling apart during the democrats rule and it is because of the Republicans before them. How soon people forget and how quick they are to blame the present administration. The newspapers and TV do not help the situation as they repeatedly blame the President and the democrats.
Blame Trump for everything and Biden for nothing. I’ve said before (on Twitter) that I don’t think there’s much Biden or any president can do under these circumstances except wait it out while the Fed takes action and we all try to get through this. There’s no magic wand. But there was no magic wand for Trump to waive when a once a century pandemic changed the world during an election year. Bad things happen and if you’re one of the people who blamed Trump for every single death from the pandemic (and are still doing so now) you should be blaming Biden for every bit of economic misery happening now as well. It’s not fair but if you’re going to be that person at least be consistent.