Republicans are anticipating a home run.
The midterms in the United States of America are here, and the Republicans, the Grand Old Party, are all set to take control of the House and the Senate if the pollsters are to be believed.
President Joe Biden, while hoping to make the election about the imminent political return of former President Donald Trump for 2024, abortion rights, could end up paying for the war in Ukraine that was egged on by NATO.
More than democracy halfway across the world, Americans are worried about putting their breakfast together. It’s the economy, stupid.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine derailed the economic recovery post-pandemic in America and Europe, pushing up gas and food prices.
In June 2022, the annual percentage change in the consumer price index peaked at 9.1 per cent before coming down to 8.5 per cent in July, 8.3 per cent in August, and 8.2 per cent in September.
However, the change is far higher than the 5-odd per cent witnessed during the collapse of the housing market in 2008. Core inflation, without food and energy prices, peaked at 6.6 per cent in September, a 40-year high.
Energy has been the biggest headache for Biden. Before coming down to 19-odd per cent in September, the annual percentage change in energy prices peaked at 41.6 per cent in June, three months after the war in Ukraine.
Food items experienced double-digit inflation after March, further adding to the economic woes of Biden.
To complicate matters, even more, 51 per cent of the respondents, in a poll conducted by left-leaning CNN, stated that the economy was the core issue for them in the elections with only 15 per cent talking about abortion rights.
The Federal Reserve has also been unable to engineer the soft landing that could help Biden.
Caught between ensuring controlled inflation and growth, the interest rate hikes by the Fed have irked central banks around the world and even the United Nations.
At the end of 2021, the interest rate was 0.07 per cent in the United States. However, as per forecasts, it would touch 4.08 per cent by the end of 2022 before easing at 3-odd per cent at the end of 2023. In the short term though, an economic slowdown is inevitable.
Another poll, conducted by RealClearPolitics, estimates that over 57 per cent of Americans disapprove of Biden solely on economic grounds. The approval rating is below 39 per cent.
In early August, Biden engineered a legislative victory with the Inflation Reduction Act, but even that has proven to be a hard sell in the runup to the midterms.
If the GOP wins the House and the Senate, the spending under the Act could come under Congress’ scrutiny. Biden’s proposal for student loan forgiveness upto $10,000, currently on pause, may appeal to young voters.
While the House and Senate numbers could go either way, a GOP win could have an impact on the funding for the Russia-Ukraine war.
Interestingly, there are Democrats who were seen proposing the idea of a diplomatic parley with Russia and Republicans who want the blank cheques to Kyiv to continue.
Bottomline, however, is that Russia may be under economic sanctions, but if the American consumer sentiment is any indicator, Biden is all set to be sanctioned politically, at home, giving Trump the perfect political launch pad to make a return.
Tushar is a senior-sub-editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @Tushar15_
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