At 8:30 am Wednesday, the news hit American politics like a thunderclap: inflation hit a 41-year record of 9.1 percent.
In response, cable networks went on full alert, the stock market fell and economists began warning about recession.
“I think it is unlikely — very unlikely — that we will see inflation come down to target range without a significant economic downturn,” President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Wednesday.
And here in New Hampshire, what did Sen. Maggie Hassan have to say about it?
The same with her fellow Democrats in the state’s federal delegation. A day after the breaking news — absolutely nothing. Not a statement, not a post, not even a tweet. No communications with the voters of any kind. Total media silence.
Granite State voters tell pollsters that rising prices and the cost of gas are their top concerns this election year by far. And yet their elected federal officials had nothing to say about the new inflation numbers.
Hassan, Rep. Annie Kuster and Rep Chris Pappas all declined repeated requests for comment. Just as significant, they also haven’t posted anything on their web pages or social media, either about the impact of the soaring inflation or their proposed solutions.
This is in stark contrast to the issue of abortion, where the four federal Democrats have held four all-delegation meetings in the past year to discuss the abortion issue.
Since the inflation news broke, Hassan has tweeted about the Tax Filing Simplifaction Act, and Kuster posted a tweet about her work on the Bipartisan Congressional Ski and Snowboard Caucus.
But on the biggest issue facing their worried, struggling middle-class constituents? Nothing.
“The reason we’re hearing nothing — zip, zero, nada — from the state’s all Dem congressional delegation on record 9 percent inflation rate is simple,” says veteran GOP strategist Patrick Griffin. “They have nothing to say! Maybe they should consider a one-line joint statement to the people of New Hampshire: ‘Sorry about that!'”
Gov. Chris Sununu, on the other hand, had plenty to say when he appeared on a national radio show Wednesday after the numbers hit. Sununu repeated his call for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to be fired. He also urged the Biden administration to restrict the flow of money into the economy.
“Unfortunately, this administration is going to end up tanking this economy, that’s the damnable misery of it,” Sununu said. “You gotta start raising interest rates, you gotta start selling some of your longer-term assets and pulling that money in,” Sununu said.
Is silence the best political strategy Democrats can manage in this difficult moment? As frustrating as it may be to voters looking for leadership, the silent treatment may be better than the Biden White House strategy:
“While today’s headline inflation reading is unacceptably high, it is also out-of-date,” Biden said. “Energy alone comprised nearly half of the monthly increase in inflation. Today’s data does not reflect the full impact of nearly 30 days of decreases in gas prices, that have reduced the price at the pump by about 40 cents since mid-June. Those savings are providing important breathing room for American families.”
Telling Americans that the inflation they’re feeling isn’t real, it’s just “out of date” data isn’t generally a winning political strategy. But it’s part of President Biden’s MO, as John Geraghty at National Review notes:
“One of the many problems of the Biden administration — and in fact one of its most severe, self-inflicted wounds — is the president’s reflexive defensiveness and denial when presented with bad news, new challenges, or evidence of failure.”
If the choices are “reflexive defensiveness” or “cone of silence,” the voters of New Hampshire may well choose the latter.
But either way, it’s not a good look.