President Joe Biden has been touting his economic achievements, but many Americans are not feeling the benefits. High inflation, uncertainty about the future, and political polarization overshadow the positive indicators of growth, jobs, and stock market performance.
The economy is booming, but not everyone is happy
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the US economy added 353,000 jobs in January, far exceeding economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate remained at 3.7%, the lowest level in 50 years. The S&P 500, the benchmark index for the stock market, reached new highs, boosting the retirement savings of millions of Americans.
However, these impressive numbers have not translated into higher public confidence in the economy. A new CNN poll shows that most Americans still have a negative view of the economic situation, and only 38% approve of Biden’s handling of the economy. The main reason for this disconnect is the persistent problem of inflation, which has eroded the purchasing power of consumers and raised the cost of living. Americans are also worried about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still not entirely under control, and the looming threat of climate change, which could disrupt the economy in the long term.
Biden’s economic agenda, dubbed “Bidenomics” by his supporters, is based on investing in public goods, such as infrastructure, education, health care, and clean energy, to create more jobs, reduce inequality, and address the challenges of the 21st century. Biden has also proposed raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for his spending plans and strengthening the social safety net for the most vulnerable.
Former President Donald Trump, who is expected to run against Biden again in 2024, has a very different vision of the economy. Trump claims that he is responsible for the economic recovery and that Biden’s policies will ruin it. He argues that lower taxes, less regulation, and more trade protectionism are the keys to economic success. He also accuses Biden of being manipulated by the Federal Reserve, which he alleges is keeping interest rates low to help Biden’s popularity. Trump has also spread conspiracy theories about the validity of the economic data, suggesting that they are rigged or manipulated.
Public opinion changed in Biden’s favor
Biden faces a tough challenge to convince the American people that his economic policies are working and that they will benefit them in the long run. He needs to communicate more effectively and clearly about his achievements and goals and counter the misinformation and attacks from his opponents. He must also address the concerns and frustrations of those struggling with inflation, unemployment, or other hardships. He needs to show empathy, compassion, competence, and leadership.
There are some signs of hope for Biden, however. The CNN poll also shows that the public mood is improving slightly, and more people expect the economy to improve in the next year. The inflation rate has also moderated in recent months, and the Fed has signalled that it will not raise interest rates anytime soon. The Covid-19 situation is also improving, thanks to the widespread vaccination and the availability of treatments. If these trends continue, Biden may be able to win over more Americans to his economic vision and secure his re-election in 2024.
The economy may look better for Biden if inflation keeps dropping
But according to CNN’s polling editor Ariel Edwards-Levy, many Americans are not convinced. She says that almost half of the country, 48%, believes the economy is still slacking. Only 35% of Americans think things are going well in the country today, a slight increase from 28% who felt that way last fall.
She also says that only 26% of Americans think the economy is beginning to bounce back from the issues it faced in the past few years, but that’s a bit higher than 20% last summer and 17% in December 2022.
Affordability remains a challenge. The Fed’s efforts to curb inflation were supposed to be challenging but necessary, but they are causing more anger.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic senators wrote a letter to the policymakers on Sunday, saying they must recognize that “sky-high” mortgage rates are making housing unaffordable for many.
“We ask you to take into account the impact of your interest rate choices on the housing market and to undo the worrying rate increases that have made affordable housing inaccessible for too many,” Warren and fellow Democratic Sens. John Hickenlooper, Jacky Rosen and Sheldon Whitehouse wrote.
Their letter shows that the robust economy is not felt the same by everyone.
People who want to buy or sell a house would not say this is a good economy. People who work in sectors like tech have faced massive layoffs and would not say this is a good economy. And people who still think eggs are more costly than they used to be may wonder how this can be a good economy.