The U.S. economy is not in good shape. Already rocked by surging inflation at a rate of 8.5% per annum, its annualized GDP for the first quarter suddenly declined by 1.4%, missing expectations of continued growth. Despite this increasingly unfavorable picture, the Biden administration continues to insist that the economy is strong and delivering. Only days ago did the president brag about a fall in unemployment on Twitter, omitting the context that the number was a product of the pandemic recovery, and not necessarily his policies.
And as it happens, the majority of Americans aren’t buying it. New data published in a series of polls on CNN found that “most Americans have a dismal view of the U.S. economy” and that “the U.S. public’s view of the nation’s economy is the worst it’s been in a decade,” a conclusion which is in fact bipartisan and backed by even a majority of Democrat voters. The poll found overall that only 23% of American adults believed the economy was in good condition, down from 54% a year ago. This is coupled with increasingly poor approval ratings – 41% for and 59% against – for Biden himself.
When that question is focused on the economy, the number drops even further, to 37%. The study further found that only 19% of Americans think Biden’s policies have improved economic conditions in the U.S., with 26% saying they’ve had no effect and 55% saying they’ve made conditions worse.
But how exactly are things getting worse for ordinary American people? The answer is seemingly in the tidal wave of inflation that has struck the U.S., exacerbated by an overinflation of the money supply and tariffs on imports from China imposed in the Trump era. Only 41% of Americans believe they are better off than a year ago, a damning figure amid what Trump claimed were the “best job numbers ever.”
Specific evidence that inflation is taking its toll on Americans is reflected in the survey’s finding that 63% of adults have had to “reduce nonessential spending” due to economic conditions, with the same total being forced to “change their grocery buying habits.” In addition, 54% have had to “cut back significantly on driving” while a third have struggled with affordable housing, a score that increases to 57% for people under 35. This not only shows how inflation is affecting Americans, but also points to how longstanding wealth inequalities endemic throughout the country are having an impact on growth and consumerism.
In this regard, the American people think Biden is not doing enough. The CNN polls further found that 81% of Americans believe the government is not doing enough to reduce inflation, with the Biden administration having not yet removed Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods, which were a fundamental factor in the rising costs. This also demonstrates how unrealistic Biden’s “America First” policies in terms of jobs and supply chains have been. There is no indication whatsoever that manufacturing in America will make goods more accessible or affordable. Instead, this protectionist doctrine itself is a fundamental part of the problem.
The spiral of inflation, a slip in GDP, and rising costs of living are challenges that the Biden administration needs to deal with urgently. As such, some decisive measures need to be taken which should put America’s true interests first.
Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. For more information please visit:
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