Joe Biden and the troop of lawmakers gathered at the White House on Tuesday were in a festive mood — greeting the new Inflation Reduction Act, which the president signed last month.
“Today offers proof that America’s soul is alive, America’s future is bright, and America’s promise is real,” Biden said.
And a package of hot dogs will set you back nearly $8.
The modest weiner isn’t an outlier — food prices are still in the stratosphere, with costs rising 11.4% in the past year, the largest annual increase since May 1979, according to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics .
And yet Biden and Co. Don’t stop crowing about the Inflation Reduction Act. The moniker certainly implies that it will tackle the crushing food prices that are causing Americans to give up meat and treats and buy less.
It won’t be anything like that. As Politico reported, Biden highlighted the benefits of the law at its Tuesday meeting: It is expected to cut the cost of prescription drugs like insulin, invest about $360 billion in climate and energy initiatives and raise taxes on large corporations.
Can you call a piece of legislation a victory if it doesn’t ease a significant burden on the American people?
Biden continued to celebrate despite Tuesday’s Consumer Price Index report showing consumer prices remain high despite slowing inflation in August. Gas prices continued to fall, but grocery prices rose.
The president chose to emphasize the positive: Biden noted that gas prices have fallen by an average of $1.30 since the beginning of the summer, adding, “We are also dropping other prices.”
Even though the president has people to run his errands with, it wouldn’t hurt for him to wander through a Food Lion in Delaware to see that groceries aren’t one of the “other prices” going down.
That Bureau of Labor Statistics report noted that egg prices rose 39.8% last year, while flour became 23.3% more expensive. Milk increased by 17% and the price of bread increased by 16.2%. Chicken prices rose by 16.6%, while meat increased by 6.7% and pork by 6.8%. Fruit and vegetables together have increased by 9.4%.
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates in an effort to contain inflation, but as CNN reported, the central bank says food prices are largely out of its control.
So inflation-braking rate hikes won’t tackle food inflation, what will they do?
According to the Associated Press, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Friday of the consequences of sharper rate hikes: pain for Americans in the form of a weaker economy and job losses.
“These are the unfortunate costs of curbing inflation,” Powell said in a speech at the Fed’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole. “But if price stability is not restored, that would mean a lot more pain.”
When the prognosis is pain or more pain, one should take another look at the drug being administered.
According to CNN, some economists are raising red flags about more rate hikes, saying they could lead to higher mortgage rates. That makes people think about buying a house. More rate hikes could curb the housing market.
And yet Biden insists that “America’s future is bright”.
For the political elite, yes. For the rest of us, hot dogs count as a luxury.