This editorial appeared in the New York Daily News.
Rationally or irrationally, presidents are credited or blamed for the economy. Barack Obama brought the country back, albeit too haltingly, from a deep recession. Donald Trump built on those gains, keeping unemployment low and the jobs machine revving until COVID-19, and his abysmal management of the public health crisis, sent trendlines and livelihoods in free fall.
Joe Biden’s charge has been to control the pandemic and put the country back on sound footing, while finally addressing unmet needs and entrenched inequalities that have festered for generations.
For months, Republicans have gloated while, in the wake of Biden’s American Rescue Plan, job creation has lagged and inflation has reared its head. An economy that should be reopening and resurging has been flagging, and that, they’ve argued, is reason against Biden’s multitrillion-dollar, economy-reshaping plans to rebuild infrastructure and help families raise their kids.
The argument is odd: Arguably, a limping private sector would more powerfully make the case for increased Washington investment as Biden prescribes, while one comfortably jogging wouldn’t seem to need a dramatic infusion of additional spending. But here in the U.S.A., nothing succeeds like success, which means that Biden has had to show that his plans, to date, are working to get any wind at his back as he urges additional action.
June’s job report delivered the necessary jolt. The economy added 850,000 jobs, its biggest jump in 10 months, as the number of job seekers grew. Compared to February 2020, the month before COVID-19 walloped the nation, hourly wages are now up 6.6%. Inflation remains a threat but is being outpaced by rising incomes. Meantime, consumer confidence is at its highest point since before the cataclysm.
With the emergency surgery seemingly complete, the recovery can now continue. While it need not spend quite as much as he has prescribed, Washington should press ahead with much of Biden’s ambitious, restorative agenda to enhance American competitiveness and strengthen family finances. This patient is off the operating table; physical therapy can begin.
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