This Is Building Back Better?

18 Oct 2021

BUCK: We have headlines that are warning of rough economic seas ahead. This on CNBC from earlier this morning: “Supply chain chaos is already hitting global growth. And it’s about to get worse.” There are others who are starting to sound the alarm because you’re being told things like, “Oh, don’t worry! Everything is going really well. Biden’s doing an amazing job! The Build Back Better program will cost zero.

“The economy’s really strong. Everything is going great,” and people see this, they say, “Well, that’s just not the reality that I’m aware of. That doesn’t seem to be what’s actually happening.” So how can they be saying this? Well, here’s an example of it. You have the supply chain crisis. One of the problems, I think, with this is it doesn’t sound scary: Supply chain.

It’s going to mean that there are shortages of products that you want to buy. We don’t know how extensive it will be. It means there will probably be a serious drag on economic growth. It could mean we are heading into a period of diminished GDP versus expectations, and perhaps even rising unemployment, rising inflation — a recession, even.

This could all be tied in together. If you think that’s too far, here you go. The Daily Mail has a piece up today. This is the quote: “America is ALREADY in a recession that could be as bad as 2008: Dartmouth College prof David Blanchflower warns that the real state of the economy has been skewed by Biden’s huge unemployment payments.”

So essentially, we’re papering over all these challenges and these problems with funny money, with printed or digitized money, and they want to do even more of it, as you know, the Democrats do. Meanwhile, here’s what Pete Buttigieg has to say about this.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, certainly a lot of the challenges that we’ve been experiencing this year will continue into next year, but there are both short-term and long-term steps that we can take to do something about it. Look, uhhh, part of what’s happening isn’t just the supply side. It’s the demand side. Demand is off the charts. Retail sales are through the roof.

And if you think about those images of, uh, ships, for example, waiting at anchor on the West Coast, how every one of those ships, uhhh, is full of record amounts of goods that Americans are buying, uhh, because demand subpoena, because income is up, because the president has successfully guided this economy out of the teeth of a terrifying recession.

BUCK: Is he serious, Clay? This is really what he’s trying to sell to the American people?

CLAY: I think this is the problem with having people in positions of power that should have never been in positions of power, particularly in the realm of economics. I think we are dealing with an incredibly challenging marketplace right now. We’ve got 5% inflation. We don’t know exactly where the inflation is going to go next.

But it’s the highest rate of inflation since, I think, all the way back in 1991. Maybe during the Gulf War we had a little bit of an inflationary spike, but really this is akin to what was going on in the 1970s with Jimmy Carter. And then as now, you have a president who doesn’t really understand, I don’t think, basic business.

And the problem is — and I give credit to Joe Manchin for actually voicing this, the senator from West Virginia who has fought back at least against some of the $3.5 trillion issues. We are talking about pouring money into a market that is already soaring in inflation. And it’s just basic economics, Buck. To sit back and say, “Wait a minute.

“You want the government to effectively be adding fuel to the fire as it pertains to inflationary pressures by pouring more and more money…?” I think what’s happening out there for the general public is, people are saying, “Wait a minute. I might be making a little bit more money at my job, but the actual money that I have in my pocket at the end of every month is less.”

Because what’s happened is, yes, wage growth has gone up, but inflation has the increased at a higher rate. And what is important is not wage growth. It’s wage growth in relation to inflation. And right now, if you look at the prices of gas, if you look at the prices of meat or eggs… I talked about this last week. I went and bought tennis shoes for my kids. You can’t buy anything at an affordable rate. Inflation is skyrocketing. It’s not getting better.

BUCK: And it’s not gonna change with this crew in charge because, if anything, they deny the numbers. What your experience is now listening to this all across the country, your experience of how much it costs to go to local restaurant and get a bite with your family, how much it costs to go and buy groceries, what it costs to fill up your car with gas? Your experience of all that, this Biden administration wants you to know two things:

One, if you think it’s bad, oh, you just need to read more about how great it is or something or listen to them. And also, if only the billionaires would pay more in taxes somehow this wouldn’t be a problem. I mean, this is all fantasyland stuff. But they also try to find ways to distract you, including here on Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press, which I think is a show that really only people in D.C. who work in the media watch.

But Chuck Todd asks Buttigieg about the controversy of the secretary of transportation taking a two-month-long de facto vacation for paternity leave while the country is in the midst of in one of few times in recent a crisis that the Department of Transportation could very much be helpful in alleviating. Here he is.

TODD: You’ve been under some bizarre attack for taking paid leave by some loudmouths in our political system. You took it. The federal government offers it to federal government employees. What does this say if the president can’t get paid family leave into his agenda?

BUTTIGIEG: It’s on the president’s agenda. It’s in the Build Back Better plan, uhh, and I’m proud to work for an administration walk on family values.

TODD: (interruption)

BUTTIGIEG: And one more thing that I think, uhhh, is maybe underappreciated. When somebody welcomes a new the child into your family and goes on leave to take care of that child, that’s not a vacation. It’s work. (snickers) It’s joyful, wonderful, fulfilling work, but it is work, and it’s time that our nation join pretty much every other country in the world and recognizes that.

CLAY: Come on. Come on. I understand the idea of if you want to get time off and not lose your job, that you should be able to take that time off when you have a kid and be able to go back to your job. But the idea that every single American taxpayer should be subsidizing months of paternity or maternity leave for every person in America, particularly paternity leave, to me, is crazy. And I say that as a dad.

To me, what Mayor Pete has done here is actually made this process far less likely to get passed, because I think a huge majority of Americans out there would say, “Hey, if you have the resources to take off for paternity leave for multiple months unpaid, that’s fine.” But the idea that taxpayers should be paying dads for months of not working flies in the face, I think, of what the vast majority of Americans believe.

So he is actually probably as bad of an advocate for this policy as could exist anywhere. Paid paternity leave is, to me, a nonstarter. I don’t think for anybody out there. If you want to take months off of your job, more power to you. You need to be able to get your job back? Okay. Maybe.

I don’t know necessarily the federal government needs to be involved in that, because if you walk away from your job for months as a dad, then somebody’s gotta fill that work, somebody’s gotta fill that void. But the idea that you would get paid for it is crazy. I think this thing’s gonna end up out of the bill, Buck, partly because of Mayor Pete’s example here.

BUCK: I think on an even bigger scale, broader scale, Clay, these are the people that want you to believe — this Biden administration, these cabinet officials, Joe Biden himself — that they know what they’re doing, that they’ve got good ideas about how to make things better for the American economy. I’m sorry. It’s getting tougher and tougher for them to sell that.

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