Biden And Democrats Should Campaign On Economic Strength

The midterm elections wrap up on Tuesday, and several topics are front and center. Democrats are criticized on the economy and for not sticking to a clear message. But they should emphasize Biden’s strong economic record, not run away from it.

In the run-up to the election, some Democrats say the party has taken a “kitchen sink” approach, dispersing messages in an effort to appeal to a narrow segment of the electorate. Strategists have feared that persistently high inflation dilutes the economic message, so many have avoided talking about it.

At first glance, this makes sense. Polls show that many voters see the economy as their top issue, and those “economic” voters appear to lean heavily toward Republicans. A new CNN poll shows that 51% of voters put the economy as the main issue in their parliamentary vote. And among those voters who value the economy the most, they favor Republican House candidates by almost three to one.

But some Democrats believe that the centrality of the economy is exactly why they have to fight the issue. In a tight re-election race, Michigan Democrat Elisa Slotkin says, “Democrats have done a poor job of communicating our approach to the economy.” Without addressing pocketbook issues and Democratic politics, she claims that “you’re just talking to the voters.”

The White House has woken up to this reporting problem. And they should — Biden’s economic numbers are very positive despite inflation. Recently, the president pointed to the October jobs report, noting an additional 267,000 jobs, a big increase in manufacturing and “historically low” unemployment, including for blacks and Hispanics.

Economic prosperity under Biden is widespread. Earlier this year, an analysis showed that the economic benefits are “at the lower end of the income ladder, even before considering pandemic support”. And pandemic support through Biden’s American bailout helped protect about 90% of Americans from income losses compared to pre-pandemic incomes.

The US is also doing much better than other countries. Comparing the percentage change in our real GDP to pre-pandemic levels, we have increased by 3.5%, well ahead of Canada (1.7%), France (0.9%), Germany (-0.1%) and the UK (- 0.2%). %).

Of course, Republicans are trying to continue high inflation by blaming it on Biden’s policies. But many economists believe inflation is coming from sources beyond Biden’s control.

Economist Mark Zandi regularly “breaks down” the inflation rate and finds that most of our current inflation is driven by external factors, not Biden’s policies. Zandi latest update believes that 60% of inflation is due to “supply-side” factors, including Russian aggression against Ukraine, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a tight housing market. By contrast, Zandi believes that Biden’s bailout plan, energy regulation and increasing the money supply have no inflationary effect, all factors emphasized by Republicans.

Do the Republicans have a credible alternative economic policy? Not according to economists Laura Tyson and Teresa Gilarducci. In the Project Syndicate article, they stress that inflation is driven by energy and food prices, fueled by the war in Ukraine and ongoing global supply chain issues. While gasoline prices capture media headlines, the two economists note that “neither the president nor Congress can do much to lower them in the short term.”

Tyson and Ghilarducci say that Republican policies will not lead to lower inflation. Instead, Republicans would “implement a program that would make life worse for most Americans.” They threaten to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, cut taxes on the wealthy, raise prescription drug prices, restrict abortions and other women’s health care (with negative economic consequences detailed in amicus curiae Supreme Court Brief on Anti-Abortion) and implement other costly policies.

Most frighteningly, Republicans could threaten America’s financial credibility by refusing to raise the federal debt limit. Several Republican House leaders have said they will use the debt limit as a negotiating tool to reduce spending on Social Security and Medicare, which could lead to a national bond default if they don’t budge. Threatening Treasury bonds and our financial stability would harm the economy and potentially trigger a global financial crisis.

With the election on Tuesday, it may be too late for Democrats to fight the economy, even while acknowledging the burden of high inflation. It could turn out to be a missed opportunity to highlight Biden’s strong economic growth and job creation.



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