AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
Overlooked amidst the visits this week by Joe Biden and Donald Trump to the striking Michigan autoworkers and the second GOP debate was another news development – evidence of possibly the most historic failure of a White House media push on record.
This summer, the administration’s interest in their “Bidenomics” push was so strong that it actually got Joe Biden out of the White House for purposes other than vacation – a rare sight over the president’s first 18 months in office.
Along with a coordinated media effort, Biden headed off to a number of stops throughout the country to tout legislation like the CHIPS Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the American Rescue Plan. With the 2024 election now just over a year away, Biden and his allies were desperate to shift public opinion on what has been the president’s weakest issue with voters.
Then came the ABC poll earlier this week showing Trump with an astounding ten-point lead, shifting all attention toward the 2024 horse race.
But the real story from that poll and other recent surveys might be how the White House’s “Bidenomics” push has been a complete flop.
Despite an all-out messaging blitz from Biden and his allies, just 37 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, according to a Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month. Notably, previous versions of the same poll had nearly identical results – meaning the White House’s “Bidenomics” effort hasn’t moved the needle at all.
An Economist/YouGov poll released the same weekend as the Journal poll found that 54 percent of respondents disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. A Yahoo News survey from August, meanwhile, found that 57 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s economic record, while just 36 percent approve.
Moreover, Americans don’t seem to see better days ahead. A recent Suffolk University poll found that 70 percent of Americans believe the economy is getting worse, not better.
What the Biden administration seems to have forgotten is that any celebration of a president’s supposed successes has to actually be loosely based in reality.
Take, for instance, Biden’s claim, made often throughout his “Bidenomics” tour, that inflation is “down two thirds from last year.” That phrasing makes it sound a little like prices are coming down.
But what Biden actually means is that the inflation rate is down 66 percent. Prices are still rising, they’re just not rising quite as rapidly as they were last year. Moreover, inflation has remained far above the Fed’s target rate of two percent since March 2021 – Biden’s third month in office.
For the average American, Biden’s self-congratulatory rhetoric isn’t hitting home because it’s just not true. Things are still way too expensive, and people aren’t feeling the relief. The administration can tout Biden’s supposed successes all they want, but with families still struggling to make ends meet, few people will be convinced.
A CBS News/YouGov poll from earlier this summer seems to confirm this. When asked what comes to mind when they hear the term “Bidenomics,” 50 percent of respondents said “higher inflation,” while 49 percent said “tax increases.” The Biden team seems to have unintentionally branded their own policy failures in the minds of voters.
Most economists also agree that Biden’s legislative “successes” have done nothing to decrease inflation and, if anything, have actually exacerbated rising prices. In essence, all Biden is doing when he talks about the Inflation Reduction Act or the American Rescue Plan is bragging to taxpayers about how much of their money he is spending. Voters seem to understand this.
But the worst of the Biden economy may be yet to come.
Ahead of the midterm elections last year, Biden virtually emptied the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserves to bring prices down before voters headed to the polls. But now Americans are about to pay the price for this temporary relief as those reserves run out. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that gas prices will increase by 12 percent by the end of 2023 and rise higher still in 2024.
Just as was the case when prices hit record highs last year, more expensive gas will lead to ripple effects throughout the entire economy.
Inflation also ticked back up to 3.7 percent in August. With the full effect of Biden’s big spending policies still yet to be felt, it’s possible that the country may not have seen the worst of the inflationary crisis that has hampered Biden’s presidency.
If the country indeed enters another prolonged period of economic decline, Biden’s “Bidenomics” victory lap may not appear just premature and tone deaf, but downright self-destructive.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with more than a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.