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Two days after an election in which the Republican Party attacked the Democrats for inflation, today’s consumer price index data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that inflation is slowing more quickly than expected. It rose just 0.4% in October, making the rate over the past twelve months also come in lower than expected at 7.7%.
The stock market had its biggest jump since 2020, with the different indexes observers use to measure the market all rising. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 1,200 points, or 3.7%; the S&P 500 jumped 5.54%; and the Nasdaq Composite surged 7.35%, the best it has done since March 2020.
In a statement, President Joe Biden promised to continue to work to get prices down but noted that his policies are having an effect. “[O]ur economy has reopened, new jobs are being created, new businesses are growing, and now, we are seeing progress in getting inflation under control—with additional measures taking effect soon.”
Then Biden appeared to reach out to Republicans interested in forging a way forward from their party’s politics of the recent past, while also recalling that for all their complaints about inflation, their only plan to fix the problem was to cut taxes for the wealthy again. Virtually no economist said cutting taxes would help inflation, and many said such a policy would actually make inflation worse.
Biden said: “I will work with anyone—Democrat or Republican—on ideas to provide more breathing room to middle-class and working families. And I will oppose any effort to undo my agenda or to make inflation worse. We are on the right path—we need to keep moving forward to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”
Biden appeared to have wind under his wings, though, as with this recent vote of confidence he looks forward to the rest of his term. The 27th United Nations Climate Change conference is being held right now in Egypt, and the U.S. administration today announced a new policy for dealing with climate change. Arguing that climate change and the shortages and damage to supply chains it brings create significant financial risk for the government (that is, taxpayers), it advanced a plan to use the federal government’s power as the world’s largest buyer of goods and services—over $630 billion in the last fiscal year—to address climate change.
It would require any federal contractor who gets annual contracts worth more than $7.5 million a year to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, explain their climate-related financial risks, and set emissions reduction targets.
Climate change is a key issue for Gen Z, who came out for Biden strongly on Tuesday, but Biden’s other major initiative on their behalf ran into trouble today as U.S. District Court Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee, declared Biden’s student loan relief program illegal. The government has already appealed.
Meanwhile, the counting of votes continues, with control of both houses of Congress still unclear.
What is clear is that there is a war erupting in the Republican Party. After former president Trump surged to an unexpected victory in 2016, there appeared to be a sense in the Republican Party that he had figured out how to mobilize previously unengaged voters to deliver victories to the Republican Party, and established Republicans increasingly rallied to his standard.
But he has led the party to defeat now for the third time. In the 2018 midterms, Republicans lost control of the House, with Democrats picking up 41 seats. In 2020, of course, he lost the election, as well as control of the Senate. And while this year’s outcome is not yet clear, the Democrats have had one of the best midterm performances in recent memory. Suddenly, Trump no longer seems to have a magic formula.
White nationalist Nick Fuentes told his audience that the solution to the fact Republicans are in a minority and keep losing elections is to establish “a dictatorship.” “We need to take control of the media or take control of the government and force the people to believe what we believe or force them to play by our rules.”
Others seem to think the answer is just to dump Trump, although as Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) warned Republicans in his closing argument in Trump’s first impeachment trial: “If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel—and for all of history.”
That his star is tarnished became clear today not just on cable television and Twitter, where right-wing users complained about his hand-picked candidates, and in Pennsylvania, where Republicans were stung by the loss of a Senate seat, but also on media owned by right-wing kingmaker Rupert Murdoch. Today the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal noted Trump’s perfect record of electoral defeat and said: “Trump is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser.”
Apparently stung, Trump unleashed a furious rant on Truth Social, claiming credit for DeSantis’s start in politics. It included an astonishing claim: “I was all in for Ron, and he beat Gillum, but after the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen….”
This is an apparent reference to the 2018 election that put DeSantis in the governor’s chair rather than his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum. The race was very close: just 32,463 votes out of 9 million cast, about 0.4%, separated the two candidates. Considering what we now know about Trump’s approach to election results, a claim to having rigged the 2018 Florida election was one heck of a statement. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo noted that even though Trump “is a pathological liar… this requires some explanation, if only a clear and definitive confirmation that this did not happen.”
Pundits are already suggesting Florida governor Ron DeSantis as a replacement for Trump as a presidential candidate in 2024. This is terribly premature. If, in fact, the party is going to move beyond the Trump years, it seems it might well not turn to DeSantis, who, among other things, is still under investigation for flying a plane load of legal migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, an act not just cruel but possibly illegal.
There will be plenty of time to worry about 2024.
In the meantime, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to a Democratic National Committee Event today at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. Harris told the audience members that their work sent a message to the entire world: Our democracy is intact…. [T]his what it looks like…. Some Democrats won and some Republicans won. That is what happens when more than 100 million Americans participate and vote in free and fair and open elections…. And the people in this room and around our country made that possible by standing up for basic American values: freedom, liberty, and the rule of law. And I believe when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for.”
Biden told the attendees that Democrats “beat the odds” in the midterms “for one reason—this is not hyperbole—because of you…. I really mean it…. You believed in the system. You believed in the institutions. You fought like hell for it. And that’s the most important thing that happened, in my view, in this election. It was the first national election since January 6th, and there were a lot of concerns about whether democracy would meet the test.”
“It did. It did. It did.”
NBC News @NBCNewsWATCH: “If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel — and for all of history.” Rep. Schiff makes his closing argument to senators in the impeachment trial of President Trump. 8:31 PM ∙ Feb 3, 2020589Likes172Retweets
© 2022 Heather Cox Richardson
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