Voters Want the Fed to Stop Raising Interest Rates—Someone Tell the Media
A new poll shows that 56% of voters oppose further rate hikes. Maybe it's time for the media to stop acting like ordinary Americans support the Fed's reckless anti-inflation campaign.
38% of voters think the Federal Reserve is on the side of big business. Only 14% think it is on the side of average Americans.
56% of voters want the Federal Reserve to hit pause on its interest rate hikes. 21% think the Fed should continue hiking.
And 77% of voters think that “we should be focusing on the legislative tools Congress can use to fight inflation instead of simply relying on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.”
These are some of the key findings of a new poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and published by the progressive group Groundwork Collaborative.
It’s a remarkable poll partially because of how unique it is. Despite inflation ranking as a top issue for voters for quite some time now, and despite the press breathlessly covering the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates for the past year, fresh public opinion data on monetary policy is almost non-existent.
I was able to find a poll published last June that surveyed Americans about their preferred method for fighting inflation and included this chart:
But beyond that, I haven’t been able to track down any recent polling specifically looking at Americans’ attitudes towards interest rate hikes.
This is sort of stunning given the vital importance of monetary policy at this moment. Millions of jobs hang in the balance as the Fed indicates its resolve to continue squeezing the economy, maybe until something breaks. And yet pollsters have been almost entirely uninterested in ordinary Americans’ views on this issue.
Part of the reason, I think, has to do with the lack of democratic accountability at the Fed. It’s a club for the technocratic elite, rabble not allowed.
As Kaleb Nygaard has pointed out, “not a single person with a background in organized labor has had a vote on the Federal Reserve’s all-important Open Markets Committee (FOMC) [which sets the target interest rate], past or present.” Instead, we get chairs like Jerome Powell, with a background in private equity and investment banking. And members like Neel Kashkari, with a background in investment banking and pretending to be homeless.
The latest rate hike by the Fed, announced February 1st, was unanimously approved by the FOMC. Meanwhile, the Groundwork Collaborative/Lake Research Partners poll, which surveyed American voters from January 27th through February 5th, found voters arrayed more than 2-to-1 against further rate hikes.
Unlike Congress, which is technically democratically elected though it continuously ignores popular support for progressive economic policies, at the Fed there’s barely even a pretense of democracy. The Fed is technically an independent body, and its monetary policy is not meant to be subject to the input of those degenerates on Capitol Hill and in the White House.
Elites are generally quite pleased with this framework. In fact, listening to elites gush over the Fed’s (capital “i”) Independence from democratic control, you get the impression that their relationship with the concept may reach beyond the platonic.
Ordinary people, on the other hand, seem to derive less gratification from the Fed’s elitist orientation. As the poll shows, they are under no illusion that the Fed is on their side. The media, nevertheless, is certainly doing its best to gaslight average Americans into thinking the Fed is servicing their wants and needs.
In one instance, New York Times reporter Jeanna Smialek wrote in a piece last October, “For now, public opinion is mostly behind the inflation-fighting campaign. Americans hate rising prices, and the Biden administration talks regularly about the need to curb inflation.”
The “inflation-fighting campaign” in question is, of course, the Fed’s reckless campaign of rapid interest rate hikes. What evidence is provided for the claim that Americans support these rate hikes? None. Smialek links to an article from Gallup showing increases in self-reported financial hardship among Americans due to price increases. And that’s it. The idea that Americans generally support the Fed’s campaign is simply fabricated.
This is far from the only instance of media gaslighting. As I documented in a piece about the coverage of inflation data in the run-up to the Fed’s early February rate hike, corporate outlets love to highlight the struggles of ordinary Americans in order to suggest that the Fed is merely doing the bidding of the people.
One Washington Post story (published as straight reporting, not opinion) that I cite asserted that “American families have been desperate for signs that the Federal Reserve’s fight against inflation is working and that the economy, especially the labor market, will continue to stabilize in 2023.” It then briefly profiled the owner of a tattoo parlor, who was hurt by inflation but had “seen a pickup in business” lately—thank you Mr. Fed man.
The Post’s message? Americans are struggling, so of course they support the Fed’s war on inflation. The evidence? Why, that’s not a question you ask a newspaper. Shame on you.
This is what passes for reporting in this country. Stipulate, then repeat stuff, repeat stuff, repeat stuff, repeat stuff, repeat stuff!
Luckily, we now have hard data on Americans’ views on interest rate hikes. And, as it turns out, they’re not fans.
I think there are two big takeaways:
(1) It’s now even more obvious how anti-democratic the Fed is.
(2) Pollsters and the media are seemingly uninterested in genuinely understanding how the American public feels about monetary policy. Instead, the media prefers to play sycophantic enabler to working-class America’s abusive boyfriend, the Federal Reserve.
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Other Recent Writing
Check out my recent post at the People’s Policy Project: “Social Security Full Retirement Age Increased by 2 Years While Life Expectancy Decreased 0.4 Years” (2/27/23).
Also, if you’re interested in my other writing on inflation: