Republican politicos are all over Joe Biden for failing to stop inflation. Perhaps you wonder, though, what these squawkers would do if they were in charge.
No need to wonder — just look back to 1974, when Americans were being pummeled by price spikes that topped 12 percent, nearly double what we’re enduring today. Back then, President Gerald Ford and his Republican contingent in Congress met the challenge head-on with a new magical program of economic uplift they called “WIN”: Whip Inflation Now!
But it was nothing — just a political slogan with no magic and no action behind it.
Price controls? Antitrust action? No to both. GOP, Inc. didn’t want to offend, much less punish, corporate titans for a little profiteering, so they shifted the blame for inflation to consumers, demanding that families just say no to price gouging.
Ford himself went on national TV, urging fellow citizens to join him in buying “only those products and services priced at or below present levels.”
The core of the Republican “program,” then, was telling hard-hit wage earners to battle the monopolistic behemoths of Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Food, etc. on their own by simply refusing to pay inflated prices for the gasoline, medicines, and groceries that they needed.
As a reward, everyone who signed a form promising to be an “Inflation Fighter” was sent a nifty WIN button, indicating their patriotic participation. Sure enough, Americans responded enthusiastically — with an avalanche of ridicule.
Even Ford’s own top economic advisor, Alan Greenspan, was whopper jawed by the GOP’s idea that the substance of their policy was a political button: “It was surreal. …I said to myself, ‘This is unbelievable stupidity.’”
Yet, this time, Republican leaders are more surreal, not even pretending to have a solution. They’re even holding up President Biden’s Fed nominees, who actually could do something about inflation, and will likely oppose Democratic legislation to crack down on price gouging.
And we don’t even get a button.