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Biden Admin Officials Try and Fail to Make Their Case on the Economy

Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP

Last week was a bad week for the Biden administration, especially on the economy, and even more so for everyday Americans. Not helping is how clueless the administration is. This includes President Joe Biden himself, who had the audacity to claim to reporters while getting ice cream that the economy is "strong as hell." When it comes to sending a message in a more formal way, numerous officials from the Biden administration were sent out to do the rounds on the Sunday shows, as they tried and failed to make the case about the state of the economy, just over three weeks from the midterm elections. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg appeared on several shows, including CBS News' "Face the Nation" and ABC News' "This Week."

In beginning the segment with Buttigieg, "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos mentioned that "inflation is the economic story of the week." It certainly is. Last Wednesday the Producer Price Index revealed prices increased 0.4 percent in September, for a 12-month increase of 8.5 percent. The very next day the Consume Price Index revealed a 0.4 percent increase for September as well, for a 12-month increase of 8.2 percent. 

Buttigieg began by touting supposed successes of the president, though, telling Stephanopoulos that "as you have seen throughout this year, he's taken a number of steps." Adding insult to injury, this examples included particularly troubling moves from the president, such as "flexibility on ethanol to the release from the Strategic Oil Reserve." 

Biden has depleted the Strategic Oil Reserves to critically low, crisis levels, as OPEC embarrasses him and his efforts to lower gas prices before the midterms. Buttigieg framed this though as a move "to try to create a little bit of breathing room for families that are paying too much at the pump," while also blaming corporations for prices, as it's always someone else's fault. Biden, as Buttigieg put it, though, is "drawing attention to the fact that you've got a lot of corporations that are wildly profitable right now, in what seems to be a larger-than-usual spread between wholesale oil prices and what we're paying at the pump for gasoline."

Buttigieg also touted the misnamed "Inflation Reduction Act," claiming it contributed to Biden's efforts "throughout this year on fighting inflation and creating more of that breathing room for American families." 

While Buttigieg was forced to acknowledge "there's still a long way to go," he did it in the context of saying "it's why that's so important, and it's why we can't turn back on the progress that's been made, especially because we know there's still a long way to go."

Referencing the misnamed legislation, and also the Infrastructure law, Buttigieg included them as how they "have been doing the right thing for the American people with proposals that are--and achievements, legislatively, that are popular because they make sense." He offered those laws as "part of what this administration and this president were elected to do was to deliver on things like that."

As part of his answer to Stephanopoulos who brought up "those numbers are weighing on Democrats as you head into the midterms," and asked "how should Democrats address it," Buttigieg offered "we're going to focus on that," meaning "focus on the achievements that have been made in this Congress and under this president, as well as the vision for the future" this administration believes it has made. 

Experts warn that the "Inflation Reduction Act" will make the problem worse and raise taxes. Further, even Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who voted for the bill, acknowledged it wouldn't immediately help.

A recent Fox News poll showed that 35 percent of voters approve of Biden's handling of the economy, while 29 percent approve of his handling of inflation. Just 4 percent rated the economy as "excellent," while a plurality, at 46 percent, regarded it as "poor." A majority, at 51 percent, also said their financial situation is "worse" compared to two years ago.

A headline from Fox News about the poll by Dana Blanton highlighted how "Voters want Uncle Sam to 'lend me a hand.'" Fifty-percent of voters now say they want the government to "lend me a hand."

"The shift toward wanting a hand-up comes as large majorities rate economic conditions negatively (78%) and say that the economy is getting worse (73%) and that they’ve had to cut back on spending to afford necessities (71%)," Blanton wrote. 

Another disastrous law, which Democratic economists like Larry Summers, warned would cause inflation, is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Yet that was another one Buttigieg had to mention positively.

Like Biden was asked last week by CNN's Jake Tapper, Buttigieg was approached with the idea of a recession, with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's warnings being front and center. When asked by Stephanopoulos "how worried are you," Buttigieg reported the along point of how "it's possible, but not inevitable." The transportation secretary didn't dwell on such concerns, though. "Americans have more income because Americans have jobs in this almost historically low level of unemployment, it's been hard for the supply side to keep up," he claimed as part of his response. 

Going by the standard of two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the United States is already in a recession

Buttigieg also made many of the same claims on "Face the Nation." To host Margaret Brennan's credit, she didn't let him off the hook so easily. She began by referencing a CBS News poll that showed bad news for the Biden Administration on the economy, including how 68 percent believed that the Biden administration could be "doing more" on inflation. 

In his response to Brennan, Buttigieg claimed that inflation is "also a top concern for the President. It's one of the reasons why he's made clear that his top economic priority is fighting inflation." 

The polls though show that the American people don't actually believe that. Further, Biden's own priorities indicate as much as well. The president on Tuesday, just two days after these interviews took place, highlighted as a priority signing legislation of what Biden and other pro-abortion Democrats claim would codify Roe v. Wade when it would actually expand it.

Buttigieg, like Biden did last week, also claimed it was Republicans who would make inflation worse. Multiple polls, though, show that Republicans have the edge on this top of mind issue for voters. And the headline for this CBS News poll highlighted how "GOP keeps lead for House control, Democrats' momentum stalls amid economy worries."

And when Buttigieg touted the ARPA this time, which he claimed "rescued the economy," Brennan brought up "record inflation" and pushed back when Buttigieg tried to blame it all on the supply chain, before doubling down on the ARPA being "a good idea."

Brennan pushed back when asking how Biden had claimed the economy was "strong as hell" while acknowledging days before that a recession was "possible," and called it "political spin" when Buttigieg tried to avoid the question. The secretary's response was to point to the unemployment numbers as "strong as hell."

CNN's "State of the Union" had Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse on the program as well, who arguably did even worse. Not only did she claim it was her and the president's "top concern," but tried to downplay inflation concerns. 

This included claiming that "we are starting to see signs that the actions they are taking is having an effect" when it comes to the Federal Reserve. Rouse also repeated White House talking points to host Dana Bash by claiming inflation was "flat" and, where she did acknowledge a problem, it was due to "Putin's war against Ukraine."

What answer Rouse could provide was that the misnamed law wouldn't "really start to bring down inflation" until "next year," as she then offered tax credits "to help people weatherize their homes." Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was similarly mocked for offering such advice back in August. 



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