The term “fuzzy math” was first introduced during the 2000 presidential campaign by Republican nominee George W. Bush. He used it to describe Democratic nominee Al Gore’s criticism of Bush’s economic proposals as they pertained to tax cuts and how to spend a budget surplus.
Fast forward to 2022 and fuzzy math has been reintroduced to our politics. This time it pertains to a Democratic proposal to spend $700 billion on the ironically named “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”
That’s right: Democrats, including President Biden, are pushing the argument that injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into an economy that is heading towards 10 percent inflation (current rate, 9.1 percent) and probably just entered a recession (commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth) and that spending $300 billion on green energy initiatives and $370 billion on “deficit reduction” is just the cure our ailing economy needs.
And right on cue, many of the headlines refer to the prospect of the act becoming law as a potential big win for Democrats and the game-changer the party needs to hold on to the House and Senate.
CNN: “In a major boost to Democrats, Manchin and Schumer announce deal for energy and health care bill.”
Politico: “Somehow, someway, Joe Biden is back in the game. After enduring a brutal year, Biden is suddenly on the verge of a turnaround that, the White House believes, could salvage his summer — and alter the trajectory of his presidency.”
Politics USA: “Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin Reach Deal on Revamped Build Back Better That Is A Massive Win For Democrats And America.”
But is the public really pumped up about an incompetent government spending more money with inflation at its highest since 1981?
A NewsNation poll this week found that 94 percent of voters say they’re somewhat or very concerned about rising prices, with 66 percent feeling “very concerned.” Nearly two-thirds rank inflation as their chief concern.
Democrats and their media allies have become adept at euphemism; it’s central to their messaging. It’s not a crisis at the border, it’s a “challenge.” Antifa is not an organization; it’s “an idea.” It’s not an unborn baby or even a fetus. It’s the “products of design.” Riots aren’t riots. They’re “mostly peaceful protests.” Infrastructure spending is not about improving roads and bridges. Infrastructure includes child care and paid leave.
And now, with inflation approaching 10 percent, we have the Inflation Reduction Act.
There are things Democrats can do to reduce inflation, such as cutting spending. But, instead, Democrats want to inject $700 Billion into the economy, which, they claim, will reduce inflation.
As for those who object to more spending amid a recession, the president insists we’re not even in one despite two consecutive quarters of negative growth, sky-high inflation and stagnant wages.
“The Inflation Reduction Act will add another $370 billion in clean-energy tax credits in reconciliation, including incentives to accelerate domestic production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and critical-materials processing. That doesn’t sound like a recession to me,” Biden said last week after news came of the economy contracting by 0.9 percent.
The Inflation Reduction Act would also significantly raise taxes on corporations. In a related story, here’s what Joe Biden’s old boss had to say as president during a recession.
“You don’t raise taxes in a recession,” then-President Obama said in 2010. “The last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.”
An old saying is that the difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. With the party in power in Washington, the stupidity seems limitless. And voters are very much onto it: Biden is polling lower than any other first-term president since such polling began. That includes Jimmy Carter. That includes Donald Trump. Both men lasted one term. In recent Quinnipiac University and New York Times polls, Biden sits at 31 and 33 percent approval, respectively.
Fuzzy math is back. Only this time, we’re falling in debt. We’re spending what we don’t have. The result is sky-high prices for everything from food and gas to lumber. Any sensible leader would put the brakes on spending while acknowledging that the economy is indeed in a recession.
But not these leaders, who believe fuzzy math and governing by gaslighting is a successful strategy.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.