President Biden’s bid for a second term in the White House begins with a concerted campaign to take credit for what he describes as an unprecedented economic recovery in the United States.
Mr. Biden will make that case in what his aides say is a “keystone” speech on Wednesday, using the backdrop of Old Chicago’s Main Post Office to reaffirm the lasting benefits of “Bidenomics” as that the 2024 campaign cycle is heating up.
He will argue that his willingness to plunge the US government more directly into supporting key industries like silicon chips has reinvigorated manufacturing. He will say that investments in rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure will pave the way for future growth. And he will insist that spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programs like student debt relief will allow more people to find their way to a comfortable middle-class life.
“Since the president took office, 13 million jobs have been created,” Lael Brainard, Biden’s top economic adviser, said Tuesday. “The unemployment rate is near record lows, below 4 percent for the longest period in almost 50 years. And we have received record low unemployment for groups that have too often been left behind.”
The boast about Biden’s economic achievements is a calculated shift from the more cautious approach of his first two years, when millions of Americans were still struggling to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic on their financial well-being.
And the positive spin by the president and his advisers largely ignores the frustrations of many Americans who are still suffering from the effects of high inflation, interest rates that make borrowing more expensive and everyday spending on necessities like health care, childcare. , groceries, gas and more.
“While families suffer, the Biden administration is in a fantasy world, insisting that their ‘the policy has actually worked‘” Tommy Pigott, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “Americans don’t want Biden to ‘finish the job.'”
Pigott cited figures showing the price of a gallon of gasoline is still about a dollar higher than when Biden took office, despite declines since prices hit when Russia invaded Ukraine. He said figures from the National Association of Energy Assistance Directors show 20 million Americans are behind on their utility bills.
But administration officials are betting that with the pandemic largely in the rearview mirror, people will soon begin to appreciate the positive effect they say the president’s policies are having on their own lives.
“I think people across the United States of America are starting to see shovels on the land in their communities,” said Olivia Dalton, White House deputy press secretary. “As we go through implementation, people will continue to feel that. They will continue to see that and they will continue to listen to this president on how we are going to continue to make progress for them.”
For now, most Americans have refused to give Biden the kind of credit he and his advisers say he deserves. Polls show about three-quarters of those polled believe the country under Biden’s leadership is on the right track. Wrong way. Only about a third say they approve of her management of the economy.
The president’s advisers say they believe it will take time for two things to happen: First, Americans must shake off the economic hangover from the pandemic. And second, they need to start feeling the benefits of Mr. Biden’s policies in action.
“People are beginning to see the impact of all the successes of the past two years on this president’s economic agenda,” said Olivia Dalton, White House deputy press secretary.
Eventually, Mr. Biden will have to shift his focus to the future and make specific promises to the American people about what kind of new economic policies he will pursue in a second term.
That could include advancing on economic promises he’s had to abandon in making legislative commitments since taking office. He failed to win enough support for his proposals to reverse tax cuts implemented by former President Donald J. Trump. He also abandoned proposals for universal preschool, free community college and heavily subsidized child care.