Alex Jones and Brittney Griner
Climate Change, Improved Economy, and More
I want to welcome the hundreds of new subscribers who have joined our Substack community by introducing a new feature this week. My idea is that I will share my thoughts on the top news stories in today’s The New York Times, pretty much as if we were sitting around at a Starbucks together with our morning paper.
Whether it becomes a regular addition depends on your reaction. If you like it, let me know. (If you don’t, suffer in silence. Kidding.)
The employment gains, which far surpassed expectations, show that the labor market is not slowing despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy.
My thoughts: Back during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, his chief strategist James Carville urged campaign workers to focus on one major idea: “The economy, stupid.” There were two other messages (“Change vs. more of the same.” and “Don't forget health care.”), but history mostly has forgotten those because every election seems more and more about the economy. As they say, People vote with their wallets.
Any glitch in the economy is an election weapon which is why the Republicans have been so gleeful about inflation as we near the very important mid-term elections. They have already instituted a national campaign to legislate voting restrictions and roadblocks to make it harder for opposition voters to get to the polls. They’ve been publicly hammering President Biden and the Democratic party as being solely responsible for inflation. Even though the accusation is inaccurate, the tactic has been successful: 64 percent of the I&I/TIPP poll's 1,310 adult respondents believe Biden's policies were either "responsible" or "very responsible" for rising prices. They count on the fact that the average voter knows little about the various causes of inflation and just need to put a familiar face to their misery. They ignore the fact that inflation is rampant across the world—Russia, Germany, England, Japan, Turkey, Argentina, etc.—with the U.S. not near the top.
Bottom line: This is bad news for Republicans because it indicates a stronger economy than has been hyped. Of course, these hopeful indicators don’t mean much to people when they’re at a gas pump or grocery store, but it is a sign not to panic and immediately point fingers at the wrong people. Especially when oil companies have been gouging us just when they should have been pulling back. In the last three months, oil company profits have set records: Exxon Mobil made $18 billion in profits, while Shell and Chevron each made nearly $12 billion in profits. Profits!