Leslie Winters remembers the economic downturn of the 1980s. She remembers standing in long lines with her grandmother to receive welfare benefits like “government cheese” and “government butter.” For a long time, it was just that, a memory. Now, she fears she may have to do the same with her three children.
But Leslie isn’t the only one suffering under the crippling weight of skyrocketing inflation. The economic downturn caused by the Biden administration’s reckless policies has spurred a massive shift in the lives of many in America’s ever-faltering middle class. Parents like Leslie are having to make tough calls about budgeting and, as a result, are forced to have difficult and seemingly impossible conversations with their children.
Inflation has hit the middle class hard. Harder, in fact, than the lower- and upper-income categories. After all, inflation is a tax in plain sight: one that tends to be more regressive as the costs of goods compose a greater share of a family’s budget. For those like the Winters family, this has taken on the form of higher gas and food prices.
“[Gas] is nearly twice as much,” says Leslie. “And then now we’re seeing the prices of food go up… And now summer will be here till the middle of October [with] this heat, and we’re really having to monitor our electricity… On top of that you have the taxes for the school district. So it’s just hit after hit after hit. It’s almost like death by 1000 cuts.”
Concepts such as inflation and the economy are hard enough for many adults—even presidents—to wrap their heads around. But for Leslie, explaining those concepts to her three children is another beast entirely.
“Getting [my kids] to understand where we are. That’s hard. They’ve not known this. They’ve not had to ever deal with anything like this. And all of a sudden it feels like a flip of a switch,” says Leslie. “Emotionally, you’re feeling it. You see it in the confusion in your kid’s face. It’s a lot.”
Despite all the economic gains made in recent years, for many people including Leslie’s family, the economy feels like it’s rolling back in time. The downturn of the early 1980s was one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression and would not be topped until 2008’s “Great Recession.” For Leslie, today’s economy brings back the memories of past struggles.
“I remember going with my grandma to get our block of government butter and our block of government cheese. [We’re headed back] in the sense of the messaging we’re getting. Our government wants to ‘help’ us, wants to make a lot of decisions for us… why [would] they stop with food,” says Leslie. “I’m optimistic in the fact that I know how this story ends, I’m a believer and I follow God’s word. When it comes to the human aspect, I don’t know.”
Unfortunately, the struggles endured by Leslie and her family are happening across the nation. At the end of June, consumer prices had risen by a 40 year high of 9.1% compared to the same time last year. In May 2022, small businesses had to shed 91,000 jobs, bringing the total number of months that small businesses have lost jobs to three out of the last four.
But who’s responsible for the state of the economy? Is it corporations and their greed? Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war against Ukraine? While there are a host of factors at play, the responsibility in many ways rests on the shoulders of the Biden administration and its policy failures. On the campaign trail President Biden promised to take responsibility for his mistakes. That time has come. The Biden administration has played a large hand in this mess. And for people like Leslie Winters and her family, it must be fixed.