A few days ago, Alex got annoyed at the gas station in her rural town in Tennessee. Because of the price of gasoline, but also at the sight of a sticker. “It was a sticker with Biden’s name and an arrow pointing to the price, as if the President of the United States was responsible for the rise in oil prices around the world!, laments the young woman. With my car key, I scraped the sticker off. It’s so stupid! »
→ UNDERSTAND. Why is inflation higher in the United States than in Europe?
But the Democratic librarian is not at the end of her troubles. Because all the polls indicate that a majority of Americans hold the White House tenant primarily responsible for the inflation that is hitting America. Over the past 12 months, prices have climbed almost 8%, not seen since the 1980s. Gasoline is the best symbol of this, with an all-time high set on March 11 – 4.3 dollars per gallon. (3.78 liters), against 4.11 dollars (in 2008).
While a slight lull followed, the year-on-year increase remains striking: in Tennessee, for example, the price at the pump is now around $4, compared to $2.67 a year ago. “With Donald Trump, there was gas everywhere, we were self-sufficient, and as soon as Joe Biden came to power, he cut the drilling, and here we are.laments Jon, retired in Chattanooga. And everything comes from oil. It’s not rocket science! Same thing with massive stimulus packages: when you put a lot of money somewhere, prices go up! I saw that during the war in Vietnam: when we arrived, everything increased. This president is incompetent! But the elections are approaching. »
Only four in ten Americans support Joe Biden
In November, voters renew Congress. In both chambers, the Democratic majorities seem more fragile than ever. Joe Biden, who was no doubt hoping for a rally against a backdrop of conflict in Ukraine, drops again in the polls, after a slight improvement in the wake of the State of the Union address in early March: barely 40% of Americans support him – only Donald Trump was doing worse after just over a year in office.
However, the US economy is doing well, and unemployment is at its lowest (3.6%). Even in Tennessee, job offers are posted everywhere. Even the Chattanooga Pinball Museum is looking to recruit. But while wages are rising, they are not keeping pace with inflation. Hence a loss of purchasing power which also affects the middle classes. “Everything increases, laments Lori, director of the chamber of commerce in a small county further south in Georgia. After their sport, I take the children to fast food. Before, it cost me 8 dollars, now it’s 11. It’s not huge, but it’s like that for everything. When I have to drive my children somewhere, I first look at which road to take to consume less gasoline…”
“Biden inflation” versus “Putin rise”
According to polls, nearly two out of three Americans say they suffer from inflation. And nearly seven in ten believe that Joe Biden is not doing enough. “Republicans have been talking about ‘Biden inflation’ for several months and the message is getting through, explains Marcus Mauldin, professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The question is complex, with an international dimension, but the vision of the Republicans is striking. Especially since the White House is struggling to define a message and indicate a way out. Putting everything on the back of Putin, it does not strike. »
Thursday, March 31, Joe Biden announced that the country would draw a little more from strategic oil reserves – one million barrels a day for six months – in the hope of bringing prices down. He also again pointed the finger at Moscow’s responsibility and the “Putin rise”. So far, neither of these two strategies has been effective.