President Joe Biden has to avoid being too sunny in his talk about mixed economic data after last week’s disappointing New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections, and before next year’s midterm cycle, analysts say.
Pundits attributed Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat to former President Donald Trump, in part, to her apparent disregard for the economic burdens shouldered by communities around the country.
Biden is “out of touch” with his rose-colored-glasses assessment of the economy, according to Republican strategist John Feehery.
“‘Lunch Bucket Joe’ has no idea how much lunch costs these days, and new tax, new regulation, and new green crop programs only add to the high costs of the Biden inflation policies,” Feehery told the Washington Examiner.
Biden just this week described 30-year-record inflation figures as an indication “our recovery is continuing to progress,” though he did concede that “we also have more work to do before our economy is back to normal.”
The country’s unemployment rate and the number of federal government assistance claims have decreased since Biden’s inauguration, coinciding with easing pandemic-related restrictions. But inflation persists, despite Biden and his aides insisting that it would be a “transitory” trend.
“The largest share of the increase in prices in this report is due to rising energy costs, and in the few days since the data for this report were collected, the price of natural gas has fallen,” Biden wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “I have directed my National Economic Council to pursue means to try to further reduce these costs and have asked the Federal Trade Commission to strike back at any market manipulation or price-gouging in this sector.”
Biden indirectly referenced supply chain kinks, too, after criticizing reporters last weekend for not explaining the problem “very well.” Instead, he contended the recently passed, yet-to-be-signed bipartisan infrastructure deal would “smooth” operations, “reduce these bottlenecks,” and “make goods more available and less costly.”
Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign was relitigated during the 2020 Democratic primary when candidates such as Andrew Yang argued the former senator, secretary of state, and first lady did not understand why Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan resonated with people.
“If you’d just turn on cable news, why would you think Trump won? Russia, racism, Hillary Clinton, emails, Facebook, and the FBI. And it’s ignoring the fact that we’re in the midst of the greatest economic transformation in our country’s history — the fourth industrial revolution,” Yang said. “And that is just set to accelerate.”
Every president spins economic data, according to historian Brian Rosenwald, who cited Ronald Reagan and his optimistic “Morning in America” catchphrase as an example.
“There is probably a fine line, however, when you have an issue like inflation. The best analogue might be what happened to Terry McAuliffe in Virginia on education,” he said of the failed Democratic gubernatorial contender. “He wasn’t listening and seemed to them to be out of touch. A politician can’t tell you it’s a gorgeous day when it’s pouring rain without voters resenting it.”
But Rosenwald said he believed Biden had time to address the economic concerns before the 2022 midterm elections, again since Reagan won reelection in a landslide two years after the 1982 recession.
“If inflation continues to rise next summer, it’s going to be disastrous for Democrats,” Rosenwald said. “If it starts to taper off as the supply chain issues get resolved, a Democratic message of, ‘The economy is getting better,’ and, ‘Look how we’ve stewarded the economy to a much better place,’ could be powerful and might prevent the usual midterm pattern.”
October’s consumer price index was 6.2% higher than last year, the steepest monthly increase since December 1990, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, was 4.6% more than October 2020, a rise last experienced in August 1991.
The White House has been underscoring the infrastructure deal and the roughly $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate spending bill still being negotiated by congressional Democrats as core components of Biden’s economic agenda. Simultaneously, fewer than 4 in 10 respondents tell pollsters they approve of Biden’s economic management, according to RealClearPolitics. An average of almost 54% do not approve of his handling of the economy. The president’s overall job approval is 43%, and disapproval is 52%.
Biden traveled to Baltimore on Wednesday for his first event touting the infrastructure deal, which he is expected to make law next week when members of Congress return to Capitol Hill. But the electorate may not feel its effects for “two to three months,” Biden warned last weekend.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo offered a different outlook this week, admitting to reporters during a White House briefing room appearance that some broadband expansion projects, for instance, would “take time.”
“It’s more important to get it right than to rush,” she said. “Not everybody’s going to have broadband a year from now.”
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Original Author: Naomi Lim
Original Location: Biden risks seeming out of touch as he tries to spin the economy