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Tipsheet

Even POLITICO Is Going After Biden's 'Plan' on Inflation

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The mainstream media is often rushing to defend Democrats. Every once and a while, though, even they aren't stepping in to help this administration. Tuesday morning's edition of POLITICO Playbook looked to address "Inside Biden’s June pivot to the economy."

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The Playbook explains the strategy as follows:

The purpose of the June pivot appears threefold:

1. To convince skeptical voters that, despite their current misgivings, the economy is actually doing quite well.

2. To calm fears about inflation and reassure both everyday Americans and major economic players that Biden has a plan to address it.

3. To thwart GOP efforts to try to hang inflation like an albatross around Democrats ahead of the midterms — and maybe even go on offense by accusing the GOP of pushing policies that will make the economy worse.

With the November midterm elections fast approaching, Democrats now have a June strategy to tackle inflation. For months, multiple polls have affirmed that inflation is a top concern for voters, and that they're not too thrilled with President Joe Biden's handling of it.

The Playbook also mentions an NBC News report that Guy addressed earlier, as the president is apparently  "rattled" by his particularly low poll numbers and "is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign."

The Playbook continues to mention, with original emphasis:

It also comes at a time when Biden has been frustrated with his political standing. This morning, NBC’s Carol Lee, Peter Nicholas, Kristen Welker and Courtney Kube report that Biden has been “pressing aides for a more compelling message and a sharper strategy … and is rattled by his sinking approval ratings and is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign.”

BUT, BUT, BUT … Biden’s desire to turn June into an inflection point for his trajectory has some serious challenges. Among them:

1) WILL ANYONE LISTEN? As of Memorial Day, gas prices have surged to a national average of $4.619 a gallon, per Bloomberg’s Jack Wittels. Not only is that a new record, it’s close to half a buck higher than one month ago. Baby formula shelves are still empty in most parts of the country. And in those grocery store aisles that are full, prices are eye-popping (bacon, for instance, is more expensive than ever — more than $9 in some grocery stores).

Given all of that, there’s a serious question about whether the president can actually convince voters that the economy is doing well. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to try.

In his WSJ op-ed, he boasts that:

  • “[T]he job market is the strongest since the post-World War II era,with 8.3 million new jobs, the fastest decline in unemployment on record, and millions of Americans getting jobs with better pay.”
  • “Since I took office, families have increased their savings and have less debt.”
  • “Business investment is up 20% and manufacturing jobs are growing at their fastest rate in 30 years.”

All of that may be true. But until it’s reflected in the lived experiences of everyday Americans, it’s likely going to be a hard sell to convince them that the economy is in better shape than they think.

2) COULD IT BACKFIRE ON DEMOCRATS? Polling has shown that voters’ top concerns this year are the economy and inflation. Telling them that their day-to-day worries are not supported by macroeconomic data — or, as Biden writes, that “the U.S. is in a better economic position than almost any other country” — is risky and could come across as tone-deaf, something frontline Democrats in swing districts have been concerned about.

3) IS IT REALLY A ‘PLAN’ WHEN THE PRESIDENT POINTS FINGERS? While the president’s op-ed purports to lay out a plan for addressing inflation, a close read shows that he actually seems to be pushing the burden off on others...

...

Only, Congress has been stuck in a rut on this issue since Christmas. So this plan isn’t much of a plan at all. Let’s also remember who controls Congress: Biden’s own party.

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"Politico" was trending on Tuesday afternoon as a result. 

The GOP was among those who quickly took notice, especially when it comes to the reminder that Biden doesn't actually have a plan, and that Democrats are the one's in control of Congress.

Tuesday overall has been a painful day for the Biden administration when it comes to addressing inflation.

During the press briefing, White House Press Briefing Karine Jean-Pierre denied that inflation is "a crisis," but rather claimed "we're just in a difficult time."

Biden economic advisor Brian Deese even tried to spin the situation as a positive when asked if explaining inflation as "transitory" had given Americans false hope. "This has been an uncertain and unexpected recovery period, historic in many ways," Deese claimed. 

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In addition to Biden's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that Tuesday's Playbook referenced, the president will also speak on Friday with regards to the May jobs report. While the Biden administration often touts jobs report numbers as a positive, a CBS News/YouGov poll had a major takeaway is that "In economic views, inflation outweighs jobs," according to a CBS News write-up at the time. 

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