Jim Crawford: Measuring Biden on economic policy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

For most Americans, the number one issue heading into the 2024 election is the economy, and on this issue, President Joe Biden has only a 36 percent approval rating.

This low approval rating could portend Biden’s serious challenge in winning re-election next year. The facts show a much more complicated economic picture than public concerns suggest.

This article considers the recovery from the pandemic that Biden led after his election in 2020, International support for Biden and the U.S., and the new term “Bidenenomics” to describe how Biden’s economic approach differs from his predecessors.

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First, when Biden took office, the vaccines were only just appearing in the United States, and the most extensive mass vaccination in history was about to take place. The economy, both in the U.S. and all the world’s major nations, was struggling from partial or complete shutdown.

In 2022, numerous economic pundits predicted a U.S. recession due to inflation and other uncertain economic factors.

Biden faced the additional challenges of several bank closures and a debt ceiling crisis manufactured by the Republican House that would have had disastrous economic consequences. But the recession never came, despite the Federal Reserve’s numerous interest rate increases levied against the economy.

So where is the U.S. today, in terms of recovery from the pandemic, compared to the G7 countries representing most of the world’s largest economies? The U.S. has the lowest inflation rate of all the G7 nations and the lowest Core inflation rate (based on highly volatile food and energy price changes) of all other G7 countries. The rate has dropped each of the last 12 months in the U.S. and, while still higher than the Federal Reserve target of 2 percent, is trending downward.

U.S. energy prices have fallen over the last year, partly due to Biden opening the Strategic Oil Reserve. In May, oil prices dropped 11.7 percent in the U.S. Besides Japan and Canada, all other G7 nations are still experiencing oil price increases.
In terms of GDP, measured against the G7 countries, recovery has been the strongest in the United States, fully regaining all pre-pandemic GDP losses in 2021 and surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

The labor market in the U.S. has remained strong. According to CAP, “The swift and broad-reaching labor market recovery over the past few years continued through the first half of 2023. The United States added, on average, 278,000 jobs per month over this period, and the unemployment rate remained below 4 percent.” (7/25/23)

The U.S. unemployment rate is also among the lowest in the G7, with only two nations reporting slightly lower unemployment ratings.

Turning to International perceptions from Pew Research, “Confidence in Biden in world affairs decreased in many places after his first year in office, but remains higher than Trump’s highest confidence rating in every country except Hungary and Israel.” (Pew Research Center 6/27/23)

Finally, Biden has introduced “Bidenomics,” an economic investment plan markedly different from the long-held “Reaganomics,” the “trickle-down” economics plan where tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy would gradually reach all Americans in theory. Biden argues that the program succeeded only in reducing American jobs and incomes.

Bidenomics has invested in returning manufacturing to the U.S., helping fund crucial national security industries here in the U.S., and creating high-quality jobs for middle-class Americans with or without college degrees.

The economic indicators suggest that the U.S. performs very well against other nations. Our recovery from the pandemic has been, by comparison, outstanding. The investment Biden’s policies are making in alternative energy resources and human capital could potentially ensure sustained economic development.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.