What’s happening: After record inflation, a series of bank failures, stagnating wages, and lackluster economic strength occurred under his watch, President Joe Biden has embarked on a tour across the country to tout a new “Bidenomics” plan to change Americans’ perceptions of a shaky economy. The economy routinely tops polling as voters’ first concern—and only a third of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of it.
The subtext: Ahead of 2024, Biden’s campaign has reason to worry that a weak economy could hurt him in a matchup against Trump, who presided over a historically strong market. Biden officials insist that the economy is “strong,” treating Americans’ worries as a public relations issue instead of directly addressing them. The term “Bidenomics” is “a branding exercise,” as CNN pointed out.
So what is Bidenomics? The White House has pointed to a set of mostly unrelated policies as evidence of a broader economic philosophy, from his $2.1 trillion infrastructure bill to investments in domestic manufacturing. The administration also highlighted slowing inflation rates, now down to 3 percent, and Biden’s “record” of job creation.
- The reality: While inflation has cooled, it’s still rising at higher levels than wages—and prices that jumped during the COVID-19 pandemic have not gone back down. Biden has also routinely claimed credit for creating 12 million jobs. But that increase came after the unusual circumstances of the pandemic that had killed jobs, and the growth mainly occurred in sectors that were affected. The president is taking credit for “creating” jobs that were destroyed when the government shut down the economy.
The real economy: Despite the spin from the White House, which involved redefining the word “recession” to downplay a cooling economy, a study by American Compass shows that it is now virtually impossible for a middle-class family to survive on one source of income. This was once a hallmark of the American dream.
Will this strategy work? Bidenomics is a campaign strategy to convince voters of a rosy outlook. Yet, former President Trump oversaw the first rise in real wages in years during his tenure, repeatedly topping polls on who voters trusted to handle the economy. The success of Biden’s plan may come down to whether Americans believe the White House over their own pocketbooks.