I regret to inform you that the “fact checkers” are at it again.
In response to the massive inflation we’re seeing under the Biden administration, the fact checkers have been mobilized to provide cover. PolitiFact questionably chose to summon Tom Kertscher, a sports writer who has worked as a trained economist for a total of zero days. But of course, he’s getting chosen for his conclusions, not his analytical process (of which there is none).
As has been the case with prior “fact checks,” Kertscher follows his usual style of basically admitting that what he’s trying to debunk is actually true, and then trying to explain how the claim may “actually, kinda, technically, sorta” not be exactly as presented, and thus the baby must be thrown out with the bath water.
Kertscher’s “fact check” on inflation is in response to a Facebook post what claims “Lumber, gas, wheat, coal and corn cost more in April 2021 ‘in Joe Biden’s America’ than they did a year earlier.” While inflation is rampant across the board, Kertscher chose to only “fact check” the reason behind why five of tens of millions of items in the economy are increasing in price.
And as always, be begins by admitting that they are indeed up, conceding the following price increases from April 2020-2021:
- 1,000 feet of lumber board: $304 to $1,500
- Gallon of gas: $1.95 to $3.05
- Ton of wheat: $183 to $251
- Ton of coal: $39 to $80
- Bushel of corn: $3.43 to $6.86
But, as Kertscher rules, the claim is only “half true.”
Just days ago Jen Psaki was widely mocked for claiming that inflation is a sign of an economic recovery, and Kerscher appears to be one of the four people who actually thinks that makes sense.
“Yes, Biden’s time in office has coincided with a rise in commodities prices. It has also coincided with the recovery of consumer demand, a decline in COVID-19 cases and an increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates,” he writes, apparently unaware of the fact that we’ve seen more COVID deaths under Biden than Trump. He also blames supply chain disruptions due to the recovery, with no mention whatsoever of Biden’s transportation secretary going MIA for two months without anyone noticing.
That we’re seeing inflation because the economy is doing “just too good!” is refuted by the fact that GDP is roughly what it was before the pandemic began. Why didn’t we have this level of inflation prior to the pandemic when the economy was the same size?
Most discussions over inflation focus on the monetary aspect, and the fed pumping trillions of dollars in stimulus certainly has exasperated inflation, but the labor shortage is also playing a role now too (and Biden extending enhanced federal unemployment benefits for as long as he did certainly didn’t help). Less workers means less being produced, which means more demand relative to supply, and hence prices will increase. While the economy is roughly the same size as it was pre-pandemic, the size of the labor force is still 3.1 million workers less than it was at the onset of the pandemic.
It’s truly odd to see any “fact checker” make the laughable argument that “inflation is actually good!” as opposed to the more moderate and believable “Trump had some inflationary policies too, and some of those effects could account for what we’re seeing now.” Though at least Trump’s fiscal stimulus was less inflationary than Biden’s as it occurred during the sharpest economic contraction in U.S. history.
And speaking of Trump, we saw the fastest economic recovery from a contraction so severe in U.S. history under him, yet we didn’t see record inflation. Trump’s economic recovery from COVID was three times faster than Obama’s from the Great Recession. The U.S. also suffered a smaller economic contraction than our peers. While the U.S. economy shrunk 3.5% in 2020, the average European country shrunk 6.6%, nearly twice as much, while the average high-income country shrunk 4.7%.
It is under Biden that the recovery has slowed (though, of note, on a state by state level it’s republican-led states that have recovered the fastest, while democrat-run states lag).
In April Biden presided over the largest jobs report miss since 1998, with the economy only adding 266,000 jobs – 800,000 short of expectations. The figures were so bad CNBC’s anchors had to do a double take when reporting on the numbers, briefly thinking they may have been reported in error. Figures fell short of expectations again in May, adding 559,000 jobs vs. 671,000 expected. And that’s been a common theme of his presidency.
Just days ago we got the worst jobs report of the Joe Biden presidency thus far, with the economy adding only 194,000 jobs in September vs. 500,000 expected. Employment among women specifically actually fell by 26,000 jobs. The labor shortage worsened, with the available workforce declining by 183,000. We also learned that a record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August.
And despite all that, year-over-year inflation clocked in at a thirteen year high in September.
This is hardly the first time that Kerscher has botched a fact check, as we’ve covered his numerous failed attempts at research before in the following articles:
- PolitiFact Tries and Fails Fact Checking Claim That California Has Six Extra Representatives Due to Illegals
- PolitiFact Botches Another Fact Check on New York vs. Florida Coronavirus Deaths
- Facebook Is Censoring Conservatives Again (Has to do with a fact check on rising crime under Pete Buttigieg’s tenure as Mayor of South Bend)
Anyway, some advice for Tom: do quit your day job.
Matt Palumbo is the author of The Man Behind the Curtain: Inside the Secret Network of George Soros, Dumb and Dumber: How Cuomo and de Blasio Ruined New York, Debunk This: Shattering Liberal Lies, and Spygate
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