News outlets continue to push price controls as an ‘unorthodox’ method to combat inflation

While President Biden continues to deal with economic issues like inflation and supply-chain chaos, many mainstream media outlets have an unorthodox suggestion to help everyday Americans.

Last week, the Washington Post spoke with several economists who listed their ideas on how to solve the economic issues facing the nation. One idea listed for the White House to “combat inflation” was price controls. The ideas was suggested by the Roosevelt Institute’s Todd Tucker, in which he argued that the time may be at hand to “destigmatize” concerns over price controls.

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FILE - In this April 29, 2020 file photo, a shopper wears a mask as she walks through the meat products at a grocery store in Dallas, Wednesday.  Wholesale prices, boosted by rising food costs, increased 0.8% in May 2021, and are up by a record amount over the past year, another indication that inflation pressures are rising since the economy has begun to re-open following the pandemic lockdowns.  

FILE – In this April 29, 2020 file photo, a shopper wears a mask as she walks through the meat products at a grocery store in Dallas, Wednesday.  Wholesale prices, boosted by rising food costs, increased 0.8% in May 2021, and are up by a record amount over the past year, another indication that inflation pressures are rising since the economy has begun to re-open following the pandemic lockdowns.  
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

“To ensure that the wealthy do not bid up prices for essential items, the time is now to begin destigmatizing greater democratic control over price levels,” Tucker concluded. 

Price controls have been ridiculed by conservatives and liberals alike as a solution to combat inflation. Economists have criticized efforts to portray price controls as anything other than a failure, but plenty of news pieces continue to push them following Biden’s first year in office.

In December of last year, The Guardian published an article by Isabella Weber, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, that read “We have a powerful weapon to fight inflation: price controls. It’s time we consider it.”

“We need a systematic consideration of strategic price controls as a tool in the broader policy response to the enormous macroeconomic challenges instead of pretending there is no alternative beyond wait-and-see or austerity,” Weber wrote.

New York Magazine followed The Guardian with its own defense of price controls as well as Weber’s piece.

Contributing writer Eric Levitz’s article “Who’s Afraid of Price Controls?” defended Weber’s take on price controls and claimed that dismissal of price controls came only from custom rather than “reason.”

“Yet, as already observed, our existing approach to managing inflation has plenty of hazards of its own. The widespread tendency to dismiss price controls of any kind as economically illiterate, while defending interest-rate hikes as economically wise, reflects custom more than reason,” Levitz explained.

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The sentiment continued on CNN Business where contributor Charles Riley asked earlier this year, “should the government control the price of food and gas?” 

Riley wrote that “with annual inflation running at a four-decade high of 7% and midterm elections approaching, price controls could feature in future debates about how to reduce prices, particularly if actions taken this year by the Federal Reserve fail to tame inflation.”

However, Riley ultimately acknowledged that price controls have been condemned by most economists and more often than not leading to supply shortages.

Inflation has grown to one of the top issues for voters with reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that inflation has grown at a rate of 6.8% in the past year, the fastest on record in 39 years. Despite warnings from several economists, some media outlets downplayed or dismissed concerns about inflation throughout 2021.

President Joe Biden speaks at Atlanta University Center Consortium, Jan. 11, 2022, in Atlanta.

President Joe Biden speaks at Atlanta University Center Consortium, Jan. 11, 2022, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Excessive inflation rates are expected to continue into 2022. White House advisors have not suggested price controls as a means to relieve everyday Americans, though time will tell if Biden considers any “unorthodox” methods.

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