“We still have to address the costs that American families face, but this recovery is faster, stronger, fairer, and broader than anyone could have expected,” Biden said. “That’s what the numbers say.”
The president also acknowledged that voters cannot rely solely on numbers – they need to “feel it in their lives, their bank accounts, their hopes and their expectations.”
This question of whether Americans feel what economic numbers show is at the heart of the challenge Biden faced in the months leading up to the 2022 election, as Democrats likely slip away from control of the House and Senate. It is not enough for the president to highlight Friday’s employment report of 531,000 jobs and the 4.6% unemployment report in October, as long as the pandemic is rampant and shortages of basic goods ranging from cars to furniture continue to drive prices up.
Beneath this challenge lies a deeper set of questions about how politics and economics will mix after the pandemic. Do Americans care more about job growth or inflation? Are they skeptical that government spending can permanently improve the economy for the better? Can Democrats expect to be rewarded for their results, or are voters indifferent to policy achievements?
Those questions also pose an obstacle as House lawmakers on Friday prepared to vote on Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure deal that has already cleared the Senate and move ahead with a $1.75 trillion mix of social spending and matching increases.
After attending the United Nations climate summit, Biden suggested at a press conference on Tuesday in Glasgow, Scotland, that failure to pass his agenda earlier would have no impact on Democrats’ performance in the 2021 election.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that my performance, good or bad or not, and whether or not my agenda is passed, will have any real impact on winning or losing,” the president said. Even if we had passed my agenda, I wouldn’t claim, ‘We won because Biden’s agenda passed.
Economists across the ideological spectrum have noted that the country is facing an unusual post-coronavirus situation. The delta variable appears to have stymied growth late this summer, and a rush of money from the government has increased consumer and business demand in ways not seen in recent recoveries.
As a result, some reliable indicators of the economy are becoming less reliable. Yes, there has been a strong recovery in employment, but many people have stopped working or looking for jobs, with the adjusted unemployment rate approaching 7.3%, instead of 4.6%, said Heidi Scherholz, president of the Liberal Institute for Economic Policy and one of the early adopters. Chief Economist at the Ministry of Labour.
“We’re still in a big hole,” Scherholz said. “Exiting the COVID recession has created some unique conditions that people have not experienced before.”
This has created a Dickensian-like framework in which there can be both the best and the worst of times. The economy is bracing for its fastest growth since 1984 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market hit a record high this week. However, inflation is rising at an annual rate of 5.4% and is killing paychecks. Employers struggle to find workers despite higher wages. Container ships get stuck waiting to dock at ports, creating empty shelves and long delays for consumers before the holiday shopping season.
“Inflation is outpacing wage gains and that’s a big problem. It looks like the economy has worsened,” said Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the center-right American Enterprise Institute.
Average gasoline prices jumped more than 60% from a year ago to $3.42 a gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. The jump was so fast that Biden called on OPEC nations last week to pump more oil even as he simultaneously called for a move away from fossil fuels to have an emission-free economy by 2050.
So far, voters seem to think the economy will be better off under the Republicans.
In Tuesday’s election in Virginia, more than a third of voters said the economy was their top priority, according to AP VoteCast. Among that major group, 63% broke Yongkin’ belief that the Republican could do more for growth.
Most importantly, 54% of Virginia voters said they disagree with how Biden handled the economy. This roughly matches a recent AP-NORC poll in which 58% nationwide disliked the president’s economic oversight, a sharp reversal in March when 60% supported Biden on the economy.
Republican lawmakers have been instrumental in criticizing Biden and Democrats on the issue of inflation. The Biden administration initially tried to play down inflation as a problem by calling it temporary, but the consensus by many economists is that it will remain above the Fed’s 2% target through the second half of next year.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell interpreted Tuesday’s election results as a rejection of Biden’s economic policies.
“The Democrats in Washington have super-inflated, re-created welfare without labor requirements, and made America less energy independent,” the Kentucky senator said in a speech on Wednesday. The Democrats last night.
Stuart Stevens, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a conservative group staunchly opposed to Donald Trump, said Biden has struggled to communicate his successes with the economy. He noted that many Americans believe the country is on the wrong track despite high vaccinations, a high stock market and a low unemployment rate.
“The Democratic Party has a huge messaging problem,” Stevens concluded Friday on Twitter.