American politicians had tried to control inflation before. The presidents and power brokers of the 1970s had tried price controls, public campaigns, pressure programs, blame games, and attempts to redefine basic economic terminology. The parties differed on the specifics, but both seemed to agree that the voting public and the private sector were to blame, not the bureaucrats and politicians in charge.
Inflation, in short, was a political problem, in the sense that it caused problems for politicians. But it wasn’t one America’s politicians knew how to solve.
On the contrary, America’s political class had spent the ’70s failing to fix inflation, or actively making it worse, often with policies designed to address other political and economic problems. That decade’s price hikes were prolonged and exacerbated by political decisions born of short-term thinking, outright cowardice, and technocratic hubris about policy makers’ ability to enact sweeping changes and manage the macroeconomy.
Author(s): Peter Suderman
Publication Date: November 2022
Publication Site: Reason