House Republicans are working to undermine the White House’s economic agenda by zeroing in on — and trying to exacerbate — voters’ fears of inflation.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who leads the Republican Study Committee, is reportedly circulating a memo with the subject line, “Tie Biden Agenda to Inflation.” It tells members to “explain to voters how inflation is Democrats’ hidden tax on the Middle Class.”
The memo was first obtained by Axios on Monday.
The GOP effort to paint the Biden administration as vectors of an impending economic downfall attempts to seize on Americans’ fears about an economy in flux following the global pandemic. As businesses are beginning to reopen after more than a year of being impeded by coronavirus restrictions, many expect the country to experience transitory inflation as the economy works through temporary mismatches between demand and supply that routinely occur in the first stage of an economic recovery. Last month, inflation rose at its fastest pace since 2009.
The memo casts the problem not in terms of the pandemic, but of taxpayer dollars being put towards COVID-19 relief checks and “generous unemployment benefits” will tank the economy.
The memo weaponizes an op-ed published in the Washington Post by Larry Summers, President Clinton’s Treasury secretary and former director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration, by focusing on Summers’ warnings of the risk of inflation expectations rising sharply. (Banks fails to acknowledge that Summers also takes aim at the Trump administration’s “indefensible delays” of safety-net measures during the pandemic in the last months of the former president’s term.)
Summers has been a thorn in the administration’s side as it seeks to avoid a repeat of what ensued in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when fears of inflation contributed to a muted government response and a tepid, years-long recovery.
Banks sent out the memo on Monday as members return to their home districts this week for a three-week recess that coincides with the Memorial Day holiday.
Banks and Republican leadership hope that capitalizing on fears of inflation as a result of President Biden’s economic agenda will help them regain the House Majority during next year’s midterm elections, Axios reported.