LANGER: Biden’s Inflation Blame Game Won’t Fool Voters

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Andrew Langer President, Institute for Liberty
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Recently, President Biden’s problem with inflation has gotten increasingly … well … inflated.

While consumer price inflation has cooled down somewhat, it continues to proliferate in the housing industry, which has become increasingly evident in key swing states. 

According to the Department of Labor’s consumer price index, the cost of shelter increased 5.5 percent in April over last year, and a new Federal Reserve report found that 19 percent of renters have found themselves behind on rent at some point in the year.

Housing costs remain the most significant driver of core inflation, especially in key political battlegrounds. In fact, a May 20 USA TODAY analysis found that six of the 10 housing markets that saw the largest year-over-year cost increases (as well as 34 of the top 100 markets) are located in swing states. 

In its report, the outlet heard from many swing state voters, including longtime Democrat voters, who said they were disillusioned with the Biden administration. One Wisconsin resident told USA TODAY that “rent is the aspect of inflation that concerns me the most,” because while “people can sometimes find ways to cut back on expenses like gas and groceries … this is just not an option for rent.”

“Underpaying rent means losing your home,” the Wisconsin resident added.

 President Biden recognizes he has a political problem here, which is why he has made fighting rent inflation one of his top campaign promises

Of course, the president won’t take responsibility for his administration’s reckless agenda, which has included trillions of dollars in unnecessary spending, a restrictive energy policy that ballooned the price of electricity and gas (it’s doubled since he took office), and a laundry list of new regulatory burdens that brought inflation to a 40-year high. Instead, he scapegoats the private sector, just as he previously did when he blamed “shrinkflation” — companies reducing their package sizes — for consumers’ high grocery bills.

At a recent Las Vegas campaign stop, President Biden accused landlords of price-gouging and said that his administration would crack down on the practice. The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission followed President Biden’s fighting words with the stepping stones for regulatory action. They filed a joint brief arguing that landlords’ use of algorithmic software systems — technology that gives property managers a rough sense of what their properties can go for on the free market — are responsible for this crisis. 

Really? Free market innovation — the invisible, self-correcting force that has increased efficiency and reduced prices by untold amounts since the founding of this republic — is to blame for the high rent prices seen nationwide? Counterproductive government policies have nothing to do with it? What’s next, blaming Hotwire.com for high hotel prices or Expedia for increased car rental costs? 

If Biden really wants to solve the cost problem for renters, he should reverse course. Instead of increasing taxes and spending, he should reduce them. Instead of churning out new job-killing regulations, he should cut them. Instead of making it harder to build more homes by issuing an endless stream of new mandates and restrictions, he should repeal them. But this would require him to admit wrongdoing, a political no-no that the president doesn’t seem willing to entertain. 

Voters know why prices have increased. They know what (and who) is really to blame. They would rather see the Biden administration take responsibility and fix the problem at hand. 

It’s not too late for the administration to stop playing politics with Americans’ housing and lay down a foundation of good policies. The sooner the better.

Andrew Langer is the Director of the CPAC Foundation’s Center for Regulatory Freedom.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.