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The White House is circulating that President Joe Biden wants to tout his economic successes. He even embraces the slogan “Bidenomics” – which most people think is a term for ridicule and policy flops.
On the one hand, unemployment is low and millions of jobs have been created in the past two years. Reality check: Virtually all of these jobs are simply restoring jobs that existed in the Trump years but were lost during the COVID lockdowns – mostly in blue states.
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In fact, there are still five states where the number of jobs is lower today than before the pandemic hit. That’s some recovery.
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If the economy is so strong, why don’t Americans feel the love? Polls continue to show that two-thirds of Americans believe the country/economy is moving “in the wrong direction.” Something just doesn’t feel right. Here are some reasons why:
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the economy at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 77 facility in Accokeek, Maryland, on April 19, 2023. The White House is now pushing for “Bidenomics.” (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
First, it has been the economic reality that inflation has outpaced wages for most households in 22 of the last 25 months. So how can the White House claim that worker wages are rising?
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Here’s the trick the Biden crunchers are playing: The White House has been praising the rise in nominal hourly wages, i.e. wages before inflation, since Biden took office. That part of the story is true.
As in the 1970s with double-digit inflation, nominal wages rose, but families were crushed financially as prices rose so much faster. Today, prices have risen even faster, so those with higher incomes are buying less. Average hourly wages have increased by $3 per hour before inflation, but have fallen by just over $1 per hour in terms of purchasing power.
Biden is trumpeting the latest reduction in gas prices at the pump — nearly $5 a gallon last year. But the price drivers pay is more than $1 a gallon higher than when former President Donald Trump was in office.
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Why is consumer spending so high? One answer is that consumer debt continues to rise. Credit card debt has recently risen to more than $1 trillion, and more consumers are falling behind on payments. Now they are caught in a financial spider web and must pay high interest to maintain their standard of living.
Next is the burden of the Biden regulation. Under this governance, the modus operandi seems to be: if it moves, control it. Economist Casey Mulligan has found that while under Trump, who reduced the number of new rules and edicts, regulatory costs per family dropped by about $2,000 per family. Under Biden, these costs have increased by $5,019 per year. This is the hidden burden of the federal regulatory octopus.
Then we have government debt, which now stands at $32 trillion — about $6 trillion more since Biden took office. Why are we borrowing such huge amounts, even though the COVID-19 crisis ended two years ago?
That debt load is expected to reach $50 trillion in 10 years, even as the White House and Congress pretend to have cut the debt. In the past 12 months alone, federal loans have exceeded $2 trillion. This is not progress.
As far as economic growth is concerned, there isn’t much. For the past five quarters, the U.S. economy has stumbled along at 1% growth — a third of the growth rate we should see in the post-COVID-19 era.
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Finally, there is the general feeling of despair and despondency – a palpable gloom that has taken over the country. Employee productivity is falling. Test scores for children have hit a 50-year low. We see more deaths from desperation. Drug use is up. Fewer young Americans say they want to have children, or believe in God, or believe in their homeland.
This doesn’t feel like Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America. It feels like twilight. It feels like Biden’s big bills are due soon and will take a very, very long time to pay off. Reagan had a famous saying: ‘strong at home, strong abroad’.
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Today we are neither.
Biden wants to boost the economy and his record as president, but few Americans feel like celebrating his “achievements.”
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Stephen “Steve” Moore is a Fox News contributor. He previously wrote on economics and public policy for The Wall Street Journal.