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Jaicee said:

The only question in my mind is whether he'll be elected president again in 2024. Actually, scratch that: a second question in my mind is why I should care one way or the other.

I can't help but "oof" when I hear takes like this.



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sundin13 said:

I can't help but "oof" when I hear takes like this.

Words can't express my shock, considering that you always disapprove of everything I say and seem to feel morally compelled to actively let me know every single time.

A couple notes:

First of all, when you say Biden's approval ratings have stabilized "at a record 12.5 percentage points underwater", what exactly is that record? He certainly has the worst approval differential of any American president currently in office (and coincidentally, the best), but it isn't the worst approval differential ever (Trump was at -17 at this point in his presidency). 

A record low for the Biden presidency is what I meant, as in to say his worst polling average to date.

(Also, I may have spoken a little too soon, as his RCP average actually slipped to a new record low of -12.7% briefly the other day, indicating that further slide may yet be possible within the current time window.)

Second, I feel the sky-is-falling mentality in regards to inflation is a bit overblown. In 2020, we saw prices decrease due to a lack of demand. As a result, real earnings increased. The decrease in real earnings that we are seeing now is largely a reversion to the mean, not a plummeting in buying power when put in context.
-In 2020, there was a 4.9% increase in real average weekly earnings (December to December)
-In 2021, there was a 1.9% decrease in real average weekly earnings (November to November due to the December data having not yet released)

If you look at the historical trend from the last five or so years, you'll see that we tend to see real weekly earnings gains around 0-1%. 2020 was anomalous in how large of a gain there was due to contexts outside of the direct work environment, so as those contexts are being reversed, we should expect to see some degree of decline. As I said before, this does not represent a plummeting in buying power. If you look at the change over the last two years, you are left with an increase of 2.7% over two years, which is still well above average. 

Further, these gains are spread over virtually every sector of the economy, not a thin sliver as you state. There is little good data indicating that such trends actually exist. Surveys are great at demonstrating how people feelbut far less good at actually representing objective realities. This is demonstrated by the fact that 31% of Biden voters say they are earning more YOY compared to only 6% of Trump voters.

I can't help but "oof" when I hear takes like this. It just seems like you're responding to my commentary on inflation by talking about wage growth to the complete neglect of, well, inflation.

(Speaking of which, since I wrote the post you were referencing, December's consumer inflation data has been released, and it's even worse, revealing that the cost of living actually jumped a full 7 percentage points over the course of 2021. Just as an aside.)

Perhaps some more data will help get the point I was trying to make across.

Spoiler!

In the Census Bureau’s “household pulse” survey last May, 46.7% of respondents said they had no difficulty paying usual household expenses. By December, that had fallen to 39.9%. During the same time period, the portion saying it’s a little, somewhat or very difficult to pay those bills rose from 45.9% to 49.9%. (The remaining 10% or so did not answer the question.)

....

One surprise of the COVID pandemic was a broad improvement in household finances, when many economists expected soaring unemployment to make things much worse. Roughly $6 trillion in relief programs passed by Congress gets much of the credit. Consumers also became frenetic savers, since it was hard to spend money when businesses shut down or it felt unsafe to go out. The saving rate rocketed from 8.3% before the pandemic to a high of 33.8% in April 2020. It stayed elevated for the next 15 months, providing a financial cushion as businesses struggled to get back to normal.

That cushion is evaporating. The saving rate in November fell to 6.9%, and Census data shows that more people are now using credit cards to pay for routine expenses. A saving supercycle has now yielded to “dissaving,” when people spend down their surplus and start to borrow more.

The article title itself sums up the point: "People are running out of money." This is what you don't seem to be grasping.

Nearly all aid from the Covid relief bills is gone, expired, over, and people's (including my) "pandemic pay" rates have been ended. Over in Republican Land, that's cause for celebration, as it means prices should be falling right now, being as bankrupting more people always gets supply into balance with demand in their alternate reality wherein markets operate according to pure logic, but back here on Earth prices just keep going up at a steadily accelerating rate anyway because there's actually this thing called corporate greed that exists. Steps have to be taken to stifle that greed or else it will just keep getting further and further out of control. The once-touted personal savings rate is now back below pre-pandemic levels and people (presumably other than you to judge by your typical callous, condescending tone here) are experiencing real difficulty affording basic living expenses. That is real. Very real. I can speak to these realities personally. The 2020 recession was actually the best thing that ever happened to my personal finances. It was extremely stressful in other ways, but financially I was actually okay for once between three stimulus checks and a brief $2/hour pay increase, on top of which people called me an "essential worker" and would voice gratitude that I'd come to work all the time and tip me. Now that we've "recovered" and I'm back to being "unskilled" instead of essential, all that is over and my water bill is way overdue, so right now I'm thinking what people like me could use is another recession.

People mistakenly think the stock market took a beating in 2021 when the S&P in fact jumped like 21% for a banner year because most people still naively buy into capitalist ideology a lot more than I do. They figure that because their own finances suffered this last year, the financial aristocracy must have as well, being as our fates are so inextricably linked and all. And yet in reality, a good year for corporate America isn't by any means necessarily a good year for the average worker. It's sort of like a cat who ducks low in the grass thinking you can't see it because it can't see you. The cat's thinking of you as if you were another cat, when in reality I belong to different species and have a whole different vantage point. I'm much taller than the grass and can easily spot a cute kitty cat in need of some cuddles.

Third, I feel like I sound like a broken record, but I need to point out again that your widespread bitterness in regards to the failure of Democrats to pass BBB is understandable but largely misplaced. By what evidence are you truly asserting that Biden is unwilling to pass BBB? You know, his signature bill that he has been pushing for the last year.

I've spoken my peace on this subject at considerable length before as well, but to reiterate, I fault not only Joe Manchin for transparently and consistently negotiating in bad faith with no intent of ever reaching an agreement on the BBB Act, but also President Biden for making this outcome possible in the first place by splitting up his heavily watered down version of what was once known as the Green New Deal into two separate bills (one only does that if they consider it acceptable for one part of the program to be defeated) with a clear prioritization of one of those two (the infrastructure bill, of course), which he actively made sure passed without the BBB Act. In other words, I'm honestly not sure how serious President Biden himself has ever actually been about this "signature legislation" of his and deserves his share of the blame for this outcome, as does House Speaker Pelosi and Progressive Caucus leader Jayapal for affording it, and so on. I feel that there's plenty of blame to go around here on different levels for most of the Congressional Democrats. To me, it just comes off like after the off-year elections, the Democratic Party practically as a whole essentially just gave up on passing the BBB Act and went for what they thought was easier.

Last edited by Jaicee - 4 days ago

Jaicee said:

sundin13 said:

I can't help but "oof" when I hear takes like this.

Words can't express my shock, considering that you always disapprove of everything I say and seem to feel morally compelled to actively let me know every single time.

A couple notes:

First of all, when you say Biden's approval ratings have stabilized "at a record 12.5 percentage points underwater", what exactly is that record? He certainly has the worst approval differential of any American president currently in office (and coincidentally, the best), but it isn't the worst approval differential ever (Trump was at -17 at this point in his presidency). 

A record low for the Biden presidency is what I meant, as in to say his worst polling average to date.

(Also, I may have spoken a little too soon, as his RCP average actually slipped to a new record low of -12.7% briefly the other day, indicating that further slide may yet be possible within the current time window.)

Second, I feel the sky-is-falling mentality in regards to inflation is a bit overblown. In 2020, we saw prices decrease due to a lack of demand. As a result, real earnings increased. The decrease in real earnings that we are seeing now is largely a reversion to the mean, not a plummeting in buying power when put in context.
-In 2020, there was a 4.9% increase in real average weekly earnings (December to December)
-In 2021, there was a 1.9% decrease in real average weekly earnings (November to November due to the December data having not yet released)

If you look at the historical trend from the last five or so years, you'll see that we tend to see real weekly earnings gains around 0-1%. 2020 was anomalous in how large of a gain there was due to contexts outside of the direct work environment, so as those contexts are being reversed, we should expect to see some degree of decline. As I said before, this does not represent a plummeting in buying power. If you look at the change over the last two years, you are left with an increase of 2.7% over two years, which is still well above average. 

Further, these gains are spread over virtually every sector of the economy, not a thin sliver as you state. There is little good data indicating that such trends actually exist. Surveys are great at demonstrating how people feelbut far less good at actually representing objective realities. This is demonstrated by the fact that 31% of Biden voters say they are earning more YOY compared to only 6% of Trump voters.

I can't help but "oof" when I hear takes like this. It just seems like you're responding to my commentary on inflation by talking about wage growth to the complete neglect of, well, inflation.

(Speaking of which, since I wrote the post you were referencing, December's consumer inflation data has been released, and it's even worse, revealing that the cost of living actually jumped a full 7 percentage points over the course of 2021. Just as an aside.)

Perhaps some more data will help get the point I was trying to make across.

Spoiler!

In the Census Bureau’s “household pulse” survey last May, 46.7% of respondents said they had no difficulty paying usual household expenses. By December, that had fallen to 39.9%. During the same time period, the portion saying it’s a little, somewhat or very difficult to pay those bills rose from 45.9% to 49.9%. (The remaining 10% or so did not answer the question.)

....

One surprise of the COVID pandemic was a broad improvement in household finances, when many economists expected soaring unemployment to make things much worse. Roughly $6 trillion in relief programs passed by Congress gets much of the credit. Consumers also became frenetic savers, since it was hard to spend money when businesses shut down or it felt unsafe to go out. The saving rate rocketed from 8.3% before the pandemic to a high of 33.8% in April 2020. It stayed elevated for the next 15 months, providing a financial cushion as businesses struggled to get back to normal.

That cushion is evaporating. The saving rate in November fell to 6.9%, and Census data shows that more people are now using credit cards to pay for routine expenses. A saving supercycle has now yielded to “dissaving,” when people spend down their surplus and start to borrow more.

The article title itself sums up the point: "People are running out of money." This is what you don't seem to be grasping.

Nearly all aid from the Covid relief bills is gone, expired, over, and people's (including my) "pandemic pay" rates have been ended. Over in Republican Land, that's cause for celebration, as it means prices should be falling right now, being as bankrupting more people always gets supply into balance with demand in their alternate reality wherein markets operate according to pure logic, but back here on Earth prices just keep going up at a steadily accelerating rate anyway because there's actually this thing called corporate greed that exists. Steps have to be taken to stifle that greed or else it will just keep getting further and further out of control. The once-touted personal savings rate is now back below pre-pandemic levels and people (presumably other than you to judge by your typical callous, condescending tone here) are experiencing real difficulty affording basic living expenses. That is real. Very real. I can speak to these realities personally. The 2020 recession was actually the best thing that ever happened to my personal finances. It was extremely stressful in other was, but financially I was actually okay for once between three stimulus checks and a brief $2/hour pay increase, on top of which people called me an "essential worker" and would voice gratitude that I'd come to work all the time and tip me. Now that we've "recovered" and I'm back to being "unskilled" instead of essential, all that is over and my water bill is way overdue, so right now I'm thinking what people like me could use is another recession.

People mistakenly think the stock market took a beating in 2021 when the S&P in fact jumped like 21% for a banner year because most people still naively buy into capitalist ideology a lot more than I do. They figure that because their own finances suffered this year, the financial aristocracy must have as well, being as our fates are so inextricably linked and all. And yet in reality, a good year for corporate America isn't by any means necessarily a good year for the average worker. It's sort of like a cat who ducks low in the grass thinking you can't see it because it can't see you. The cat's thinking of you as if you were another cat, when in reality I belong to different species and have a whole different vantage point. I'm much taller than the grass and can easily spot a cute kitty cat in need of some cuddles.

Third, I feel like I sound like a broken record, but I need to point out again that your widespread bitterness in regards to the failure of Democrats to pass BBB is understandable but largely misplaced. By what evidence are you truly asserting that Biden is unwilling to pass BBB? You know, his signature bill that he has been pushing for the last year.

I've spoken my peace on this subject at considerable length before as well, but to reiterate, I fault not only Joe Manchin for transparently and consistently negotiating in bad faith with no intent of ever reaching an agreement on the BBB Act, but also President Biden for making this outcome possible in the first place by splitting up his heavily watered down version of what was once known as the Green New Deal into two separate bills (one only does that if they consider it acceptable for one part of the program to be defeated) with a clear prioritization of one of those two (the infrastructure bill, of course), which he actively made sure passed without the BBB Act. In other words, I'm honestly not sure how serious President Biden himself has ever actually been about this "signature legislation" of his and deserves his share of the blame for this outcome, as does House Speaker Pelosi and Progressive Caucus leader Jayapal for affording it, and so on. I feel that there's plenty of blame to go around here on different levels for most of the Congressional Democrats. To me, it just comes off like after the off-year elections, the Democratic Party practically as a whole essentially just gave up on passing the BBB Act and went for what they thought was easier.

A) Yeah, I like to express when I disagree with people around here. It's kind of my thing.

B) Thanks for the clarification with regards to the record that has been set.

C) A discussion about inflation without talking about other parts of our monetary system is fairly meaningless. I chose "wages" as my means of providing context to the discussion, because you too spoke about inflation in the context of wages. I don't think that is unreasonable in any way. 

D) As for your "more data", there was one big red flag that jumped out to me in that first paragraph. Comparing May to December. Personally, I find myself spending far more in the colder months like December than I do in May, which is often mild enough for me to get by without any type of heating or cooling. As such, I can't say I'm particularly surprised by people feeling worse off in a December than they do a May. A better comparison would be to look at last years data from December (using the US Census Household Pulse Survey data, comparing the timeframe encompassing the first week of December 2020 and the first week of December 2021):

December 2020: 40.5% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses
December 2021: 39.9% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses

That is a difference of less than 1%. For comparison, the week after that initial sample from December 2020, 38.9% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses, a number that is lower than the number for December 2021 and to me, demonstrates that the figures for December 2021 are not outside the range expected for a December before the inflation that occurred over the course of the year. 

E) As for the data relating to saving, it seems to largely be a response to the programs that were previously enacted. That is to say, this is a return to baseline, not a catastrophic change. That however isn't to say that this baseline is particularly healthy. I support many of the measures aimed at improving the quality of life of those in lower income brackets, but as I say below, the first thing we need to do is accurately diagnose the problem. The problem here doesn't seem to be inflation, but rampant income inequality and lackluster public investment (and a lot of other related or semi-related things). 

F) I largely agree with your assessment of where much of this inflation is coming from. While some is certainly responsive to economic necessities (such as chip shortages and increased labor costs), others are the result of corporate greed. The feeling exists that there is more money to make (partially as a result of the savings cycle you mentioned and the wage increases), so businesses are increasing costs betting that people will continue to pay. As of now, they seem to have largely bet right, but it still disappoints me that Democrats like Biden have let them get away with it, largely at their own expense. I feel the first thing that should be done about it is to simply diagnose the problem but obviously that alone won't fix it. Beyond that, I'm not entirely sure what the solution is. I support price controls on things such as Insulin and housing, but on everyday items, that seems like a bit of a dangerous path. 

G) Why would you assume that things would be any different if the infrastructure bill was tied to BBB? If the two were tied together, the difference that we'd be seeing today is that nothing would have been passed and we'd still be in this same situation. Yes, of course the bill that fewer people objected to was easier, but I see no real moral or political failing in passing it. 



Jaicee said:

I've spoken my peace on this subject at considerable length before as well, but to reiterate, I fault not only Joe Manchin for transparently and consistently negotiating in bad faith with no intent of ever reaching an agreement on the BBB Act, but also President Biden for making this outcome possible in the first place by splitting up his heavily watered down version of what was once known as the Green New Deal into two separate bills (one only does that if they consider it acceptable for one part of the program to be defeated) with a clear prioritization of one of those two (the infrastructure bill, of course), which he actively made sure passed without the BBB Act. In other words, I'm honestly not sure how serious President Biden himself has ever actually been about this "signature legislation" of his and deserves his share of the blame for this outcome, as does House Speaker Pelosi and Progressive Caucus leader Jayapal for affording it, and so on. I feel that there's plenty of blame to go around here on different levels for most of the Congressional Democrats. To me, it just comes off like after the off-year elections, the Democratic Party practically as a whole essentially just gave up on passing the BBB Act and went for what they thought was easier.

My main question is why would you believe that anything would change no matter how the BBB was brought up.  The same 2 A holes would still be there and they would still do exactly what they have done already.  So what you are saying is that instead of splitting the Infrastructure bill and BBB but keep it all together, the BBB would have passed.  Do you really think the way the current House and Senate is made up that the Green New Deal would make it to Biden's desk, lets be realistic here.

Lets first think about the first hurdle.  How would it get pass the Senate through filibuster, not a chance.  Then lets be realistic based on the moderate Dems who definitely would not be trilled to get that huge monster to Biden desk.  Hell, they can barely get the cut down version through reconciliation what makes you believe that huge Green new deal would even go through reconciliation.  So we are left with a huge spending bill that I doubt would have passed the house but lets say it did and hits the Senate.  You would need 60 votes in the Senate and there is absolutely no chance that is going to happen unless a miracle happens.  Then you still have the same 2 a holes on the Dem side trying to kill everything like they already have.  Why would their agenda change, if anything you can believe Manchin would not budge an inch.  The Green new deal was never and I mean never going to get through both houses of Congress in its original form.  

So yeah, they split the bill because the chances of getting it through in one big bill was nil.  Yes, it does not have everything the progressives want because progressives do not run the house or senate and thus they need to fight to get what they can to the President desk.



sundin13 said:

A) Yeah, I like to express when I disagree with people around here. It's kind of my thing.

Me in particular noticeably more than others.

B) Thanks for the clarification with regards to the record that has been set.

No worries!

C) A discussion about inflation without talking about other parts of our monetary system is fairly meaningless. I chose "wages" as my means of providing context to the discussion, because you too spoke about inflation in the context of wages. I don't think that is unreasonable in any way. 

Seeing as I'd already pointed to the clear discrepancy between the rates of wage growth (about 3% in 2021) and price growth (7% in 2021), I guess I just don't see what value wage growth rates from 2019 and 2020 added to the discussion. The point remains that the cost of living is growing at a rate that's increasingly outpacing people's ability to afford it.

D) As for your "more data", there was one big red flag that jumped out to me in that first paragraph. Comparing May to December. Personally, I find myself spending far more in the colder months like December than I do in May, which is often mild enough for me to get by without any type of heating or cooling. As such, I can't say I'm particularly surprised by people feeling worse off in a December than they do a May. A better comparison would be to look at last years data from December (using the US Census Household Pulse Survey data, comparing the timeframe encompassing the first week of December 2020 and the first week of December 2021):

December 2020: 40.5% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses
December 2021: 39.9% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses

That is a difference of less than 1%. For comparison, the week after that initial sample from December 2020, 38.9% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses, a number that is lower than the number for December 2021 and to me, demonstrates that the figures for December 2021 are not outside the range expected for a December before the inflation that occurred over the course of the year. 

While that's a clever workaround of the point, the comparison of May to December seems much more judicious to me in that May was roughly the peak period of impact for the most recent Covid relief bill (a point in time by which most Americans would have received their final round of stimulus checks, but also would not have yet burned through them fully for example) while December was obviously a point in time after that aid had largely expired. In other words, comparing May to December highlights the impact of allowing the relief measures to expire. Moreover, that situation was actually true in both years because in 2020 likewise there was a large Covid relief bill that was of course passed early on in the year that was allowed to expire before December before, at Donald Trump's personal behest, a minority of Congressional Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in supporting a much smaller second relief package. A December-to-December comparison then highlights two comparable periods in which relief packages had wholly or essentially expired. A May-to-December comparison, by contrast, highlights the difference between having relief in place and not having it there. In a policy formation sense, that data is far more pertinent. The data all combined points to strong benefits of economic aid both during a recessionary period (2020) and during and inflationary period (2021) and that people fall behind in both contexts without it.

E) As for the data relating to saving, it seems to largely be a response to the programs that were previously enacted. That is to say, this is a return to baseline, not a catastrophic change. That however isn't to say that this baseline is particularly healthy. I support many of the measures aimed at improving the quality of life of those in lower income brackets, but as I say below, the first thing we need to do is accurately diagnose the problem. The problem here doesn't seem to be inflation, but rampant income inequality and lackluster public investment (and a lot of other related or semi-related things). 

It's a return to below the previous baseline. You keep trying to minimize the situation at hand.

F) I largely agree with your assessment of where much of this inflation is coming from. While some is certainly responsive to economic necessities (such as chip shortages and increased labor costs), others are the result of corporate greed. The feeling exists that there is more money to make (partially as a result of the savings cycle you mentioned and the wage increases), so businesses are increasing costs betting that people will continue to pay. As of now, they seem to have largely bet right, but it still disappoints me that Democrats like Biden have let them get away with it, largely at their own expense. I feel the first thing that should be done about it is to simply diagnose the problem but obviously that alone won't fix it. Beyond that, I'm not entirely sure what the solution is. I support price controls on things such as Insulin and housing, but on everyday items, that seems like a bit of a dangerous path. 

What are the dangers you see that I'm missing?

G) Why would you assume that things would be any different if the infrastructure bill was tied to BBB? If the two were tied together, the difference that we'd be seeing today is that nothing would have been passed and we'd still be in this same situation. Yes, of course the bill that fewer people objected to was easier, but I see no real moral or political failing in passing it. 

I feel that it's a big assumption to make that a certain senator would necessarily vote the same way under other circumstances wherein the only way to get the infrastructure funding he tacitly supports would be to sign off on a larger public welfare package. Such a situation creates maximum pressure in reality, which is precisely why the Progressive Caucus HAD insisted that the fates of both bills be tied together. That Manchin (and at points Sinema) could even propose just passing one separate bill in the first place gave them leverage they wouldn't have otherwise had. It should never have been an option in the first place in my view.

What's done is done though, so what can be done in the here and now of the reality we have to salvage any of this, you might ask? Bernie Sanders recently proposed a partial solution that makes a great deal of sense to me in remarks made to the Guardian:

Spoiler!

“We have tried a strategy over the last several months, which has been mostly backdoor negotiations with a handful of senators,” Sanders said. “It hasn’t succeeded on Build Back Better or on voting rights. It has demoralized millions of Americans.”

He called for reviving a robust version of Build Back Better and also called for holding votes on individual parts of that legislation that would help working-class Americans. “We have to bring these things to the floor,” Sanders said. “The vast majority of people in the [Democratic] caucus are willing to fight for good policy.”


There are surely individual elements of what is today the Build Back Better Act that even the senators in question would not vote against if actually placed before them as a matter of record. Something can yet be passed, surely.



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Jaicee said:
sundin13 said:

A) Yeah, I like to express when I disagree with people around here. It's kind of my thing.

Me in particular noticeably more than others.

B) Thanks for the clarification with regards to the record that has been set.

No worries!

Seeing as I'd already pointed to the clear discrepancy between the rates of wage growth (about 3% in 2021) and price growth (7% in 2021), I guess I just don't see what value wage growth rates from 2019 and 2020 added to the discussion. The point remains that the cost of living is growing at a rate that's increasingly outpacing people's ability to afford it.

D) As for your "more data", there was one big red flag that jumped out to me in that first paragraph. Comparing May to December. Personally, I find myself spending far more in the colder months like December than I do in May, which is often mild enough for me to get by without any type of heating or cooling. As such, I can't say I'm particularly surprised by people feeling worse off in a December than they do a May. A better comparison would be to look at last years data from December (using the US Census Household Pulse Survey data, comparing the timeframe encompassing the first week of December 2020 and the first week of December 2021):

December 2020: 40.5% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses
December 2021: 39.9% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses

That is a difference of less than 1%. For comparison, the week after that initial sample from December 2020, 38.9% of families reported no difficulty paying household expenses, a number that is lower than the number for December 2021 and to me, demonstrates that the figures for December 2021 are not outside the range expected for a December before the inflation that occurred over the course of the year. 

While that's a clever workaround of the point, the comparison of May to December seems much more judicious to me in that May was roughly the peak period of impact for the most recent Covid relief bill (a point in time by which most Americans would have received their final round of stimulus checks, but also would not have yet burned through them fully for example) while December was obviously a point in time after that aid had largely expired. In other words, comparing May to December highlights the impact of allowing the relief measures to expire. Moreover, that situation was actually true in both years because in 2020 likewise there was a large Covid relief bill that was of course passed early on in the year that was allowed to expire before December before, at Donald Trump's personal behest, a minority of Congressional Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in supporting a much smaller second relief package. A December-to-December comparison then highlights two comparable periods in which relief packages had wholly or essentially expired. A May-to-December comparison, by contrast, highlights the difference between having relief in place and not having it there. In a policy formation sense, that data is far more pertinent. The data all combined points to strong benefits of economic aid both during a recessionary period (2020) and during and inflationary period (2021) and that people fall behind in both contexts without it.

It's a return to below the previous baseline. You keep trying to minimize the situation at hand.

F) I largely agree with your assessment of where much of this inflation is coming from. While some is certainly responsive to economic necessities (such as chip shortages and increased labor costs), others are the result of corporate greed. The feeling exists that there is more money to make (partially as a result of the savings cycle you mentioned and the wage increases), so businesses are increasing costs betting that people will continue to pay. As of now, they seem to have largely bet right, but it still disappoints me that Democrats like Biden have let them get away with it, largely at their own expense. I feel the first thing that should be done about it is to simply diagnose the problem but obviously that alone won't fix it. Beyond that, I'm not entirely sure what the solution is. I support price controls on things such as Insulin and housing, but on everyday items, that seems like a bit of a dangerous path. 

What are the dangers you see that I'm missing?

I feel that it's a big assumption to make that a certain senator would necessarily vote the same way under other circumstances wherein the only way to get the infrastructure funding he tacitly supports would be to sign off on a larger public welfare package. Such a situation creates maximum pressure in reality, which is precisely why the Progressive Caucus HAD insisted that the fates of both bills be tied together. That Manchin (and at points Sinema) could even propose just passing one separate bill in the first place gave them leverage they wouldn't have otherwise had. It should never have been an option in the first place in my view.

What's done is done though, so what can be done in the here and now of the reality we have to salvage any of this, you might ask? Bernie Sanders recently proposed a partial solution that makes a great deal of sense to me in remarks made to the Guardian:

Spoiler!

“We have tried a strategy over the last several months, which has been mostly backdoor negotiations with a handful of senators,” Sanders said. “It hasn’t succeeded on Build Back Better or on voting rights. It has demoralized millions of Americans.”

He called for reviving a robust version of Build Back Better and also called for holding votes on individual parts of that legislation that would help working-class Americans. “We have to bring these things to the floor,” Sanders said. “The vast majority of people in the [Democratic] caucus are willing to fight for good policy.”


There are surely individual elements of what is today the Build Back Better Act that even the senators in question would not vote against if actually placed before them as a matter of record. Something can yet be passed, surely.

A) You in particular tend to say thing that I feel compelled to respond to. In my opinion, it is a side effect of the fact that we are pretty close on certain issues and so far on other ideas or rationales. Same with Rab and a few others who generally agree with many leftist ideas, but use that to make radically different conclusions. 

C) My point was that this change is a return to the pre-pandemic baseline and not a drastic change in fortunes in the greater scheme of things. The overall inflationary trend line in relation to wages is still pretty average (or even slightly better than average). I feel this is important to account for when events occur outside of the economic system which have an impact on said system, especially when speaking about policy. In other words, if the pandemic hadn't happened and we had reached this price point naturally, no one would really be freaking out. As such, should we be taking drastic action to reverse this trend? 

There are several avenues which I think we can go down to make the economy healthier in the grand scheme of things, but many others which I find largely heavy handed and addressing a problem which may not exist in the same magnitude that smaller scale analyses tend to believe. 

D) Again, you seem to be alluding to an idea that I largely agree with (and correct me if I am wrong and you don't believe with the following statement):

It is not that the place we are at now is significantly worse than the place people were at pre-pandemic, it is that the relief efforts put in place during the pandemic improved the economic fortunes of many people (in particular low-income individuals). As such, as those measures expire or fall further into the past, people are falling into the same unhealthy place they were in pre-pandemic.

I do feel that the distinction between "Things are so much worse" and "Things have stopped being better" is important, because I believe that they have very different avenues to make things better. For example, pointing to inflation tends to be something Republicans do to argue for less stimulus, not more. This is because inflation often occurs when people have more money to spend. On the other hand, if the problem is not inflation, but instead a lack of public spending causing people to fall back into poverty or food insecurity or housing insecurity, the solution is not to decrease monetary supply but instead to increase it.

I believe that if the programs are enacted which I believe we both support, inflation will occur, however I do not really see that as a problem that in itself must be fixed as long as the economy as a whole is healthy. That is to say "stagflation" is bad, but we are not in stagflation, so full speed ahead. 

F) The problems with price controls largely depend on how they are going to be enacted and what they are going to be placed on. It is a very detail driven question, and it is also a question of what the problem is that they seek to address. Price controls can also lead to shortages, by making certain goods less lucrative to produce for businesses, causing them to shift to other, more lucrative goods. It is not something I am necessarily 100% against in theory, but I would have to be very particular about the details to actually voice my support for it in practice. 

G) Likewise, I feel it is a big assumption to make to assume that Manchin would vote differently had the infrastructure bill been tied to BBB, especially because when they were tied together, he still didn't support BBB.

I find it interesting though that your solution for BBB at this point is to break it up into smaller pieces and pass those which are more easily passed. Seems awfully similar to what happened with the Infrastructure bill. It isn't a strategy I am against if it get something passed, but my philosophy is and has been "Do what can be done", while yours seems to historically be "All or nothing"