WASHINGTON – The US economy was supposed to help President Joe Biden and the Democrats, but recently it has hurt them with the electorate.
Biden on Friday praised the U.S. economy for outperforming the rest of the world, saying this was mainly due to its $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package and plans for additional spending of around 2.75 trillion US dollars for infrastructure, families, schools, healthcare and climate change.
Yet Americans have become pessimistic about the economy amid persistent inflation. On Tuesday, Virginia voters rewarded Republican Glenn Youngkin with a gubernatorial victory, in part on belief that he would be better for economic growth. The president couldn’t ignore these realities but said at the White House on Friday that the latest numbers show a rough energy economy.
“We still have to deal with the costs American families face, but this recovery is faster, stronger, and fairer, and wider than almost anyone could have predicted,” Biden said. “That’s what the numbers say.”
The president also acknowledged that voters can’t just rely on the numbers – they need to feel it “in their lives, their bank accounts and their hopes and expectations.”
This question of whether Americans feel what the economic data is showing is at the center of Biden’s challenge in the months leading up to the 2022 elections, when control of the House and Senate could potentially slip away from the Democrats. It is insufficient for the president to highlight Friday’s employment report of 531,000 job gains and an unemployment report of 4.6% in October while the pandemic rages and the shortage of basic goods from automobiles to furniture continues to drive prices higher.
Behind this challenge lies deeper questions about how politics and economics will mix together after the pandemic. Are Americans more interested in employment growth or inflation? Are you 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 political achievements?
Those questions also posed an obstacle when House Democrats finally -proved Biden’s $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal on Friday, which the Senate had already cleared. The House has also advanced a $ 1.85 trillion effort in support of health, family and climate protection programs, with a plan to vote by November 15.
After attending the UN climate summit, Biden suggested at a press conference on Tuesday in Glasgow, Scotland that not adopting his agenda would have no impact on the Democrats’ outcome in the 2021 election.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that whether or not I have passed my agenda will have a real impact on whether or not I am good or bad. “Even if we had passed my agenda, I wouldn’t say, ‘We won because Biden’s agenda passed.'”
Economists across the ideological spectrum noted that the country is facing an unusual situation following the coronavirus. The Delta variant -pears to have slowed growth in late summer, and the government’s monetary rush has boosted consumer and business demand in ways not seen in recent rallies.
As a result, some reliable indicators of the economy are less reliable. Yes, there is a solid recovery in hiring, but so many people have stopped working or looking for a job that the adjusted unemployment rate is closer to 7.3% instead of 4.6%, said Heidi Shierholz, president of the Liberal Institute for Economic Policy and former chief economist in the Ministry of Labor.
“We’re still in a huge hole,” said Shierholz. “Coming out of the COVID recession created some unique circumstances that people have never experienced before.”
This created a Dickensian-like framework in which it could be the best and the worst. The economy is facing its fastest growth since 1984 and the Dow Jones industry average for the stock market hit a record high this week. Still, inflation is high at an annualized rate of 5.4% and is eating up the paychecks. Despite rising wages, employers struggle to find workers. Container ships are waiting to dock in ports, creating empty shelves and long delays for consumers before the holiday shopping season.
“Inflation is outpacing wage growth, and that’s a big problem,” said Michael Strain, director of economic studies at the center-right American Enterprise Institute. “It feels like the economy has gotten worse.”
Average gasoline prices rose more than 60% year over year to $ 3.42 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. The jump was so quick that last week Biden called on OPEC states to pump more oil while calling for a move away from fossil fuels in order to have a zero-emissions economy by 2050.
Voters so far seem to believe that the Republican economy will do better.
In Virginia’s election on Tuesday, more than a third of voters said the economy was their top priority, according to – VoteCast. Of this key group, 63% broke Youngkin believing that a Republican could do more for growth.
More importantly, 54% of Virginia voters said they dis -prove of Biden’s handling of the economy. That’s almost in line with a recent –NORC poll in which 58% nationwide disliked the president’s economic responsibility, a sharp reversal since March when 60% supported Biden in the economy.
The Republican legislature has effectively hammered Biden and the Democrats on the inflation issue. The Biden administration initially tried to minimize inflation as a problem by calling it temporary, but many economists agree that it will be above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target by the second half of next year.
Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell interpreted Tuesday’s election results as a rejection of Biden’s economic policy.
“The Washington Democrats have boosted inflation, recreated welfare with no job requirements, and made America significantly less energy independent,” the Kentucky Senator said in a speech on Wednesday. “The American people will not stand this. That’s what voters said to the Democrats last night. “
There is also a possibility that Biden misinterpreted voters’ votes in last year’s election. Much of the president’s ability to form a broader coalition relied on opposition to Donald Trump rather than fully embracing his ideas. Paul Winfree, director of studies for economic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation, interprets Biden’s dis -proval as a sign that voters see his expansion of government spending as going too left.
“The 2020 elections were more than anything a referendum on Trump as an individual,” said Winfree. “Now we see voters saying the Democrats misidentified their mandate.”
Stuart Stevens, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a conservative group strongly opposed to Trump, said Biden was struggling to communicate his successes to the economy. He noted that despite the fact that vaccinations have risen, the stock market rises and the unemployment rate falls, many Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.
Stevens concluded on Twitter on Friday: “The Democratic Party has a huge messaging problem.”