Even as some commentators called President Joe Biden patronizing and elitist for saying that prices will continue to rise and business owners will continue to struggle to hire workers for the foreseeable future, CNN dubbed the president’s statements an act of “tough economic love” driving home just how important it is that Congress enact his political agenda.
CNN, which hosted a town hall meeting in Ohio last Wednesday night, called the president’s comments on the economy an act of blunt truth-telling. “Politicians are ordinarily wary of bearing bad news. Biden has insisted he won’t sugarcoat the facts,” the story said.
When a student at Mount St. Joseph University asked about steadily rising prices on consumer goods, Biden told her matter-of-factly, “There will be near-term inflation.” But he maintained that the sweeping, multi-trillion-dollar spending packages he proposes will eventually “reduce inflation, reduce inflation, reduce inflation.”
Later in the event, a restaurant owner said that he and many others are having a difficult time hiring employees and asked the president what he planned to do “to incentivize those that haven’t returned to work yet.” Many economists blame the nation’s hiring crisis on enhanced unemployment benefits which, in some cases, pay workers more to stay at home than to work.
President Biden replied, in effect, that the owner should be grateful the government had offered him a bailout during the COVID-19 pandemic and that owners will simply have to pay workers more, no matter how that cuts into their tight profit margins.
“If you notice, we kept you open. We spent billions of dollars to make sure restaurants could stay open,” Biden said, referring to the Payroll Protection Program begun under former President Donald Trump.
Biden added that “there’s some evidence that … unemployment insurance has kept people from going back to work.” But Biden later contradicted himself, saying, “I see no evidence it had any serious impact on” unemployment rates.
“I think it really is a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things, and there is a shortage of employees. People are looking to make more money and to bargain,” he said. “And so, I think your business and the tourist business is really going to be in a bind for a little while.”
A restaurant owner asks Biden how his admin will incentivize returning to work. Biden suggests businesses should just pay better if they can’t find staff. pic.twitter.com/v0ggrkHx0k
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) July 22, 2021
Viewers in real time called the president’s answer “struggling” and “fumbled.” Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance called Biden’s remark “a joke” that is “insulting [to] an entire industry of some of the hardest working people in the world.”
Biden is definitely struggling with this answer about what his administration is currently doing, and will do, to help restaurants that want to hire people
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) July 22, 2021
The man who asked the question — John Lanni, the award-winning co-founder of the Thunderdome Restaurant Group, which has 39 locations nationwide — later said he found Biden’s answer evasive and unsatisfying.
“I feel like he didn’t really answer the question,” Lanni told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He was mixing answers.”
But CNN thought the answer showed how much faith Biden had in his own plans — and how everyone else should follow suit.
“It was some tough economic love,” reported CNN’s Kevin Liptak. “Biden was trying to make a point about the major changes he is trying to affect on American workers’ lives in his first year in office, convinced whatever side effects being felt right now pale in comparison to the larger benefits down the road.”
Biden’s answers echo remarks he whispered dramatically during a press conference last month when he defended excessive government unemployment benefits as giving workers leverage to stay at home.
Biden said when people tell him that “‘employers can’t find workers,’ I said, ‘Yeah, pay them more,’” moving closer to the microphone and whispering. “This is an employee’s bargaining chip now.”
But Lanni said his restaurants already pay most of their workers at least $15 an hour, with wages and tips.
“I just heard restaurants are going to have a hard road going forward and that we need to pay our workers more,” Lanni said. “I was hoping he would recognize it is every industry’s dilemma.”
Even moderator Don Lemon seemed to understand this point, telling the president, “Everywhere I go, there isn’t pretty much a shop in my town — a restaurant or whatever — where there isn’t a ‘for hire’ sign.”
There are currently 7.6 million unfilled job vacancies nationwide, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis — more than any time in the twenty-first century.
“We are in a labor crisis, and we need to find a way to incentivize people to get back to work,” Lanni said. “I don’t know that he fully understands the challenges we are facing.”
The two questions are related in another way: Employers who pay workers higher wages will charge consumers higher prices, driving the inflationary cycle forward.
“When minimum wage goes up, who do you think is going to pay for that? The customer,” John Stratidis, the manager of a Greenwich Village diner, told the Daily Mail. “You’re going to be walking in somewhere to eat something and paying $40 or $50 for a hamburger.”
That sounds tough to love.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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