May 20, 2024

Biden is struggling to convince voters of his economic credentials despite strong growth and low unemployment.

United States President Joe Biden has hailed the US economy as the “envy of the world” as he seeks to assuage voters’ doubts about his economic stewardship in an election year.

In a fiery State of the Union address on Thursday, Biden pointed to a series of economic data points, including record job creation and rock-bottom unemployment, to make the case that the economy has gone from strength to strength on his watch.

“I inherited an economy that was on the brink. Now our economy is the envy of the world!” Biden told the joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“Fifteen million new jobs in just three years – that’s a record! Unemployment at 50-year lows. A record 16 million Americans are starting small businesses and each one is an act of hope.”

While there is room to quibble with some of Biden’s figures – the record creation data is skewed by the fact that there were so many job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic – the president’s overall argument is on solid ground.

By most accounts, the US economy is in an extremely strong position.

Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3.1 percent last year – far ahead of other advanced economies. That performance is all the more remarkable considering that economists widely predicted a recession in 2023.

Inflation, a persistent thorn in the side of US consumers both during and after the pandemic, is now below 3 percent.

The problem for Biden, who is facing Republican challenger Donald Trump in November, is that voters are giving him little credit for these undeniably impressive numbers.

Poll after poll has shown that Americans don’t feel especially optimistic about the economy.

In a New York Times-Siena Poll published earlier this week, 51 percent of respondents rated the economy as “poor,” while 23 percent said it was “only fair.”

Only 26 percent rated it as “good” or “excellent.”

Even worse for Biden, voters rate Trump as more trustworthy in handling economic matters.

In an NBC News poll published last month, 55 percent of respondents said Trump would do a better job on the economy, compared with 33 percent who chose Biden.

Another poll by CBS News showed that 65 percent of Americans recall Trump’s economy being good, compared with 38 percent who gave the current economy a positive assessment.

Biden will be keenly aware that US presidential elections are often won and lost on the economy (“It’s the economy, stupid” continues to be a favourite slogan to describe voters’ priorities more than 30 years after it was uttered during Bill Clinton’s 1992 election campaign).

Given perceptions of the economy, it is perhaps not surprising that Trump is leading Biden in most polls.

In his State of the Union address, Biden devoted much of his time promoting the message that the economy should be fair and benefit all Americans.

“America’s comeback is building a future of American possibilities, building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down, investing in all of America, in all Americans to make sure everyone has a fair shot and we leave no one behind!” Biden, who proposed hiking taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals, said.

With a little under eight months until Americans vote, Biden has some time to turn around perceptions.

If he can’t, he will struggle to secure a second term.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *