As the American public celebrated Labor Day this year, an increasingly pressing question loomed in the backdrop: “Why are things so expensive?” Whether it’s essentials like groceries or major expenses like mortgages and cars, the cost of living has noticeably skyrocketed.
The Unchecked Rise of Inflation
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals a concerning trend—a cumulative 21% increase in the cost of goods since 2018. Economists and policy analysts have largely attributed this to the spiraling inflation under the Biden administration. Inflation doesn’t just mean higher prices; it also means a decrease in the purchasing power of the dollar, creating a double whammy effect for the average consumer and the economy.
The Energy Sector: From Independence to Dependency
When Biden entered office in January 2021, one of his first executive orders put an end to the Keystone XL Pipeline project. Many argue this decision catalyzed America’s current energy predicament. Skyrocketing gas prices have not only strained individual households but have also had a cascading effect on the costs of goods and services throughout the economy. The contrast is striking when we look back at 2018 under Trump. The average price of gas was $2.86 per gallon nationally, and America was making substantial strides toward energy independence.
Automobile Prices: An Unsustainable Surge
The inflated costs extend beyond daily household items and fuel in the economy. The American auto industry is experiencing unprecedented price hikes, partially attributed by critics to Biden’s “Green New Deal” initiatives. During Trump’s term, however, policies such as exiting TPP and revising NAFTA into the USMCA trade deal played crucial roles in stabilizing and even boosting the automobile sector. These policies not only kept car prices in check but also encouraged domestic production and job creation.
Housing: The Distant Dream of Ownership
Arguably, one of the most startling economic shifts has been in the housing market. The median price for homes has shot up to $416,000, a whopping 26% increase from 2020 figures. In real terms, this translates to an average monthly mortgage payment of $2,605, which has increasingly edged out young Americans whose wages have stagnated. In stark contrast, the Trump administration had forward-looking housing policies, notably his proposed “Quantum Leap” initiative that aimed to facilitate more affordable housing by creating “Freedom Cities.”
Wages vs. Inflation: The Growing Disparity
The rising costs of living would be less of a burden if wages increased correspondingly. However, wage growth has been sluggish, failing to keep pace with the rising inflation. During Trump’s years, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was implemented, leading to a modest but significant increase in take-home pay for many Americans, thereby improving their standard of living.
The Factual Verdict
On his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump recently posed a reflective question: “Ask yourself: Were you better off today, or four years ago?” This isn’t merely rhetorical. Economic indicators from his term suggest that for many, the answer would be four years ago. Trump’s economic strategies aimed at bolstering American industries, stimulating job growth, and making the American dream more attainable for its citizens.
While current circumstances are shaped by a multitude of factors, including global economic challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevailing sentiment echoes the data. The comparative stability under Trump’s economic policies led to an affordable, attainable standard of living for a broader swath of Americans, a trend we’ve yet to see reestablished.