Jen Psaki (White House Press Secretary) has a theory on why Americans are spending more at grocery stores.
“The president [and]”Both the secretary of agriculture and I have spoken about what we see as the greedy meat conglomerates,” Psaki said to reporters during Tuesday’s White House daily briefing. The prices are much higher. That is, in his view and in the view of our secretary of agriculture, because of—you could call it corporate greed, sure. It could be called “pandemic pricing”
Alas, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D–Mass.) These widely ridiculed and debunked claims about corporate greed as the root cause of inflation appear to have made it into the official White House talking points.
It is not possible to believe that this whole notion could be true. Psaki wants Americans to believe that these shadowy “meat conglomerates” were simply not very greedy for the past 30 years—during which time inflation has been relatively low—but now have suddenly become very, very greedy in the past six months.
Walmart’s flawed logic suggests that it could be far more profitable over the years if its prices were higher than they are now. Walmart and any other successful company know that this is not the case. By their very nature high prices encourage consumers to spend less. Businesses that sell products to make money don’t like inflation.
The cherry on this terrible economic analysis is the fact that the Biden administration has just completed it. New subsidies worth $600,000,000 to the meat industry
The American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus package Biden successfully urged Congress to pass earlier this year, contained $500 million to “expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry” industries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture provided loan guarantees of $100 million to help “expand the meat and poultry processing capacities” as well as other infrastructure.
Do you think America’s meat-processing industry is run by corporate fat cats who are able to line their pockets using higher prices? If so, does that mean taxpayers will have to pay for it? Even more moneyAre you willing to pay for necessary improvements? The Biden administration appears to suggest that it could be both.
The White House’s main motivation here, of course, is to deflect attention away from its own role in creating the ongoing inflationary spiral—a problem that voters now say is the most important issue the country faces. Economists warned that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act was too large and could overheat the economy, but Democrats passed it anyway.
Other factors influencing inflation, like the disconnect between supply and demand that’s largely a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, are well beyond Biden’s (or any president’s) power to change. One of the outlying causes for high meat prices is the drought in western America. This has resulted in beef herds shrinking and cows being slaughtered 15 percent less tender. A second factor is ongoing staffing issues at meat-packing facilities that are affected by the pandemic. They have to be careful to avoid COVID-19-related outbreaks, and they operate less efficiently when full-staffed.
These problems won’t be solved by throwing $500 million of taxpayer money at the meat sector. Blaming the meat industry’s “greed” for “jacking up prices”—while actively throwing taxpayer money at the same meat industry—won’t do it either.
This episode is just one more example of the foolishness of relying on government to manage our economy.