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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Crime, Inflation, Immigration: Biden's Reality Problems.

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the politics of economic policy and crime.  On these issues, Biden does not have messaging problems.  He has reality problems.

Richard Rosenfeld and Janet Lauritsen at WP:
On Oct. 16, the FBI released data for 2022 that showed a small drop in the nation’s violent crime rate, including homicide. That’s good news.

Unfortunately, the government’s other crime measurement system — the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) — tells a disturbingly different story. Its findings, released in September, show that violent crime victimization rose — by a lot.

One reason might be that fewer violent crimes were reported to the police in 2022 than in 2021. We don’t know why this might have been, but increasing police response times stemming from depleted officer ranks might have made some residents less inclined to file reports. Declining trust in or increasing fear of the police might have played a role as well.

Other reasons for the discrepancy might result from the different populations covered by the two data sources. As a household-based survey, the NCVS does not include people who are homeless or those in institutions such as prisons, jails and nursing homes. It also excludes crimes of violence against those younger than 12. If people included in the survey experienced changes in violence that differ from the changes experienced by those excluded from the survey, that could help account for the different violence rates.

Oliver Knox at WP:
Federal Reserve Governor Lisa Cook — whom Biden elevated to the job — was asked during an appearance at Duke University whether she was worried about Americans’ pessimistic outlook at a time when broad data shows the U.S. economy is buzzing.

“If the economy is doing better, if this disinflationary process that we keep talking about is actually in process, then why are people so upset? And I asked myself, ‘why am I so upset?’,” she said.

“Well, I know why I'm upset. Because I have GasBuddy on my phone and I'm looking around and I'm like, ‘so um, when are prices gonna get back to where they were before?’ Right?”

The White House — and Biden himself — have (correctly) argued that inflation has dropped. But, as Cook pointed out, that’s not prices dropping (deflation) it’s prices increasing at a slower rate (disinflation).

“Most Americans are not just looking for disinflation. You and I as macroeconomists are looking for disinflation. They’re looking for deflation. They want these prices to be back where they were before the pandemic,” Cook said. (The exchange is roughly at 43 minutes into the video.)

“That’s my own theory,” she concluded. “But I hear that a lot. I don’t have to wait for articles about that, I hear that from my family, from lots of different people.”

Ashley Wu at NYT:

The 2022 fiscal year set a record of 2.2 million illegal border crossings. These numbers do not include crossings at official checkpoints. Including those, migrant crossings in the 2023 fiscal year hit a record high.

Immigration is a major issue for President Biden. Republicans say his immigration policies are too weak to reduce numbers at the border. Members of his own party — like the mayors of Chicago and New York — have said their cities do not have enough resources to provide shelter and other assistance to the growing number of migrants.

Shifting U.S. policies, global migration patterns and changing migrant demographics all factor into the high levels of illegal border crossings of the past few years.