The White House seems determined to make “Bidenomics” the center of the president’s 2024 presidential campaign, and given how things stand (Trump and Biden in a statistical tie, with Trump ahead in most swing states), that’s a really scary proposition for the Democrats—and the country! Bidenomics, including the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, contains a good deal of impressive legislation the president should rightly take credit for, but unfortunately, selling it to voters is like offering to rearrange their deckchairs on the Titanic when what they need are life rafts. According to a recent consumer survey, almost two thirds (64%) of households often live paycheck to paycheck, which means they’re struggling to make it through the month, with no opportunity to get ahead or achieve real financial security.
Despite the White House claim that Bidenomics has created jobs and prosperity, a recent New York Times/Siena College poll found that 59% of voters in six key swing states had more confidence in Donald Trump’s ability to manage the economy than Joe Biden’s. The administration’s positive numbers are real, but right now our country is so out of whack, so skewed to the interests of business and the wealthy, that many traditional economic measurements are no longer relevant to the middle class. The fact is, Bidenomics has yet to improve the lives of most voters—groceries and gasoline still cost more than they did a year ago, average rent and mortgage rates are still up, and healthcare is more unaffordable than ever.
Traditional measurements simply don’t reflect the economy most Americans experience. For example, in a country in which wealth is distributed as unequally as it is in the United States, the gross domestic product (G.D.P.) metric can be misleading, as it merges the entire spectrum of great riches and poverty. And similarly, based on salaries not keeping up with inflation, paychecks are falling further behind for a growing number of households, no matter the record high job creation figures touted by the administration.
The “Inflation Reduction Act” is Helping Drive the Clean Energy Economy, and that’s Great, but it’s Not Reducing Consumer Prices.
As terrible as the Trump presidency was, and despite the tremendous danger he poses to our country if he is reelected in 2024, we need to acknowledge that a large swath of Americans had it better under his leadership—or at least that’s how they feel. Don’t misunderstand, the so-called “Trump economy” was a total fraud—his “middle class tax cut” only cut taxes for business and the wealthy while ballooning the federal deficit—but inflation and interest rates were low, the result being the middle class was better able to buy gas and feed their family, as well as purchase a car or even a house.
Unlike Trump, Biden’s policies have not exacerbated inequality—and some of them actually represent a substantive start toward reversing it—but many of its impacts are too abstract and too far out in the future to be appreciated by most voters. Instead of pretending that impressive economic statistics trickle down to average Americans, the Democrats need to tout the administration’s more tangible achievements more aggressively—and fast! Otherwise, this humble spirit fears the authoritarian threat to democracy known as Donald Trump will be back in office come 2025, and the fate of the Titanic, deckchairs and all, will be a metaphor for the entire country.