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Biden’s Bad Luck and Bad Choices

Why his poll numbers have tanked—and what he can still do about it.
June 2, 2022
Biden’s Political Conundrum on Inflation | Not My Party with Tim Miller

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tim Miller: Biden’s polling’s down the sh***** and inflation continues to balloon up. Has Joe officially screwed the pooch? This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark.

Summer is here, but for Joe Biden the political storm clouds are busting open.

Joe Biden (voiceover): Come on, man.

Miller: Now the Not My Party stans know I’m having “no ragrets” when it comes to Uncle Joe vs. Orangina.

Wrestling video game voiceover: Biden with the springboard! Joe Biden!

Miller: But we gotta be real. How have his numbers tanked so badly? And can anything be done to fix it?

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen in The Two Towers): There is always hope.

Miller: Let’s go back to last summer to zero in on when exactly his poll numbers began to go south. Aaaaaand stop. Right here: July 30, 2021. The day he got hexed when a staffer passed along a cursed note telling him he had something on his chin.

Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine-Nine): Cursed.

Miller: Over the next month, his approval rating dropped six points, coinciding with the cluster**** in Afghanistan. But the seeds of his political weeping willow were planted earlier. The moment he signed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that sent the economy into overdrive.

Bob Belcher (from Bob’s Burgers): Brakes, hit the brakes!

Miller: It came on top of $2.3 trillion in COVID relief spent under Trump.

Beth Smith (from Rick and Morty): Fake news.

Miller: At the time, center-left economists, like former Obama adviser Larry Summers, warned that all this spending risked inflation.

Larry Summers: I think there’s about a one third chance that inflation will significantly accelerate over the next several years

Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree on Homeland): Years?

Miller: But the Democrats give zero f*** about going over budget. And let’s be honest: The Republicans haven’t either. Both parties have consistently ignored budget hawks—like me and Larry—and the government has kept spending like drunken Kardashians with no end in sight.

Kris Jenner: Doing amazing, sweetie.

Miller: But today Larry Summers’s warning looks like Biden’s canary in the coal mine. Because come fall of 2021, bad luck piled on top of bad choices. The Delta wave hits, then Omicron, then Russia invades Ukraine.

Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor on HIMYM): A rough couple of months.

Miller: This comes on top of a Zoomer lifetime’s worth of the mathletes at the Fed pumping cheap money and politicians’ free spending.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street): Fun coupons! A fun coupon!

Miller: All of these ingredients baked us more inflation, rising gas prices, supply-chain issues and a wonky pandemic economy riddled with First World problems.

TikToker: I got Altoids at Target yesterday. Doesn’t sound like there’s more than like five in there. So I’m taking it back to Target.

Princess Tiana (as a frog in The Princess and the Frog): Oh, poor baby.

Miller: So as we turn to 2022 with inflation rising like Bezos’s penis plane, you think Biden and the Democrats would wanna do something about it?

Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher on Desperate Housewives): No, not really.

Miller: Uncle Joe’s getting no help from his friends on the Hill. The Senate has given up on passing—

Creepy robo-voiced fake AOC: Human infrastructure.

Miller: —or any other economic relief bill. Chuck Schumer seems to have spent the last six months just clipping his nails. So instead the Biden administration has gotten a little desperate. They extended the student loan holiday, which alleviates some folks’ financial burden, but doesn’t help with inflation; released the strategic oil reserve—

Fighter from Kingdom of Heaven: Oil! Now!

Miller: —and they got Daddy Government to bring us some overseas baby formula, which is not my preferred solution of getting rid of Trump’s tariffs, but at least it’s something.

Huey Freeman (from The Boondocks): Better than nothing.

Miller: Altogether it’s not horrible, but it’s a bit of small potatoes. The other option, how about trying to do politics? Cut a deal.

Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez on Jane the Virgin): I know, totally crazy.

Miller: Biden needs to get Joe Manchin and the tiny Republican Vanilla Mod Squad over to the White House to figure out a package that will help stifle inflation and give people a little bit of relief on out-of-control costs. Manchin already offered one idea: Lower prescription drug costs and hike taxes on the wealthy, then use the revenue to fight inflation and climate change.

Juno (Sylvia Sidney in Beetlejuice): Not bad.

Miller: Maybe there’s a different deal, but until they do something, Biden is gonna continue to get rained on by the critics. Even though it wasn’t all his fault—I’m looking at you, Jerome Powell—Joe made his bed with the COVID package; now he needs to do some politicking to get himself out of it.

Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden: Look, here’s the deal.

Miller: More on that to come in the next few weeks on “Not My Party.” See you then.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump, communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee.