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Who Is the White House Fooling on Bidenomics?

AP Photo/Sergei Grits

The White House has ramped it up with trying to sell Bidenomics to the American people, even as it's clear they don't want it and aren't benefiting from it. That hasn't stopped the administration from trying to find and take victories where they can, no matter how artificial or incomplete. And it's likely a move we can only anticipate to get more intense as the 2024 general election approaches, with Biden is performing poorly in the polls with his approval rating, including and especially when it comes to the economy. 

The headline of the Thursday morning edition of POLITICO's Playbook happened to be "Why Biden is smiling this week," which began with the claim, with original emphasis, that "President JOE BIDEN is having a good week. A really good week, actually." 

Economics supposedly played a big factor, with the most recent consumer price index (CPI) numbers having just been released on Wednesday. The narrative in the media, including POLITICO, is how inflation was at 3 percent in June compared to last earlier, with many touting how this was its lowest number since March 2021. 

As Spencer covered in light of the release, "Latest Inflation Report Is Not the Good News Democrats Want You to Think It Is," which also mentioned how "core CPI — a metric which excludes the more volatile food and energy indexes — increased 0.2 percent in June for a 4.8 percent annual advance."

Here's why that 3 percent isn't much to celebrate after all, Spencer explained:

With headline CPI remaining at an annual rate of three percent and core CPI sitting at 4.8 percent, both metrics sit above the Federal Reserve's target rate of just two percent — and continue moving in the wrong, upward direction. 

What's more, even though the June report's increase may look modest — and the president's team is sure to hype up BLS' heralding of the smallest annual increase since the early days of the Biden administration, that's not the full story. At all. 

The three percent year-over-year headline CPI number represents a three percent gain on the inflation rate reported 12 months ago — which was the highest level of inflation reported in more than four decades. The June 2022 CPI print showed a 1.3 percent monthly advance for an annual increase of a whopping 9.1 percent.

A statement from RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on the CPI also spoke to the grave reality of Bidenomics. "It will take American families and workers a long time to recover from 'Bidenomics' as they struggle with the reality of higher costs for everything. Voters will make Biden a one-term president because he continues to lie to Americans and refuses to take responsibility for his failed agenda," she said. The statement pointed to RNC Research further highlighting the failures of Bidenomics.

It's not just POLITICO, of course. Biden and the White House took to celebrating at length, including over Twitter.

On Friday, the White House released a statement on "The Economics of Investing in America," which further touted Bidenomics. NEC Director Lael Brainard had even claimed on Wednesday that the "economy is defying predictions."

Speaking further of inflation, the White House wasn't afraid to gloat about the issue in another way over Twitter on Tuesday, even if it involved misleading on the numbers. Not only did the tweet get called out in the replies, but it got hit with added context from Community Notes, as our friends at Twitchy pointed out.

The tweet read that inflation-adjusted income is up 3.5 percent since Biden took office, as a way to also claim that "Bidenomics is growing the economy from the middle out and the bottom up."

As it turns out, though, those numbers aren't even in line with the government's own data. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings were at $11.41 an hour when Biden took office. What was then the recent release, from May 2023, showed they were at $11.03 an hour. That's actually a decline of 3.3 percent. It was still only $11.05 for June. 

Despite the Community Notes, they still tweeted the same claim days later.

It's not entirely surprising, sadly, that the White House would mislead so heavily on inflation, as they've done so on job creation too, on issue where they've also been hit with community notes and fact-checked on, including by Mia.

The Thursday morning edition of Playbook went to mention how this is supposedly "spurring hopes that the economy may be finally turning the corner," again with original emphasis. They also cited a POLITICO article from Wednesday, on how "Biden’s economic dream is becoming reality — but how long can he sustain it?" That's some crummy dream. 

In addition to portraying some kind of rosy image about the economy, the report scratches the surface of how Americans aren't quite on board with Bidenomics:

Biden allies insist those are each manageable elements on their own. But the White House is already struggling to convince Americans that the economy is, in fact, good at a time when all the major indicators are moving in the right direction. And together, those looming hurdles represent a reminder that Biden and his team can only exercise so much control over the economy’s path in the run-up to 2024.

...

Inside the administration, aides described their focus more on alleviating voters’ existing misgivings about the state of the economy rather than promising a rosy future. The White House has long harbored deep frustrations with media coverage that officials view as obsessed with the threat of recession, even as the underlying data showed consistent signs of strength — a dynamic they blame in part for the public’s dim view of how Biden has handled the economy.

Of course, who can forget how a reporter pointed out to Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton in a press briefing from late last month that "on the economy, you and this White House continues to point out that on individual issues that have been passed and that are being implemented, they are popular with the American public," going on to ask "why does the White House think consistently, however, that Americans grade the president so poorly on his handling of the economy?"

"We’re just starting to feel the impact of the President’s economic agenda over the last couple of years," Dalton tried to stress, as she sounded like a broken record bringing up Biden policies.
 
"So people are just starting to see the impact of--of all of the successes of the last couple of years under this president’s economic agenda," she went on to claim. "And now is when we’re able to not only talk about what the president’s agenda is but point to the results and the fact that we have to keep our foot on the gas, as I said, to keep ourselves moving forward here," she added, failing to answer the question. 

Of course, Dalton in recent weeks is not the only one to plug the president's supposed economic successes. 

Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates tried to cite the Hatch Act last week when taking a question from a reporter about whether or not he was willing to say that cocaine found at the White House belonged to Biden or his son, Hunter. Because the question mentioned comments from former and potentially future President Donald Trump, Bates claimed he could not speak to the question. He didn't stop there, though.

What followed was a spin-filled rant on the Biden administration's supposed successes, including on the economy, which is why Bates supposed "it would be unsurprising if there's a little bit of frustration on the part of people who worked in the last administration." 

Even Democratic experts think the Hatch Act defense was total nonsense. 

Back to Thursday morning's Playbook, it notes that "[t]op Biden advisers are reluctant to be seen as taking a full victory lap." It's not so much because the American people are wisely not on board, but more so because the administration has found other factors to place blame on:

But, but, but: Top Biden advisers are reluctant to be seen as taking a full victory lap. Even as they hit the road touting “Bidenomics,” they have their eyes to three big potential storms on the horizon: (1) the mass resumption of student loan payments coming this fall; (2) a likely government shutdown later this year; and (3) the possibility that additional interest rate hikes could still push the economy into a downturn.

There's no shortage of factors that this administration has found to blame their troubles on. And boy, does the president look to be in trouble, including and especially on the economy. 

RealClearPolitics (RCP) not only shows that Biden currently has a 42 percent job approval, but that he has a 38.4 percent approval rating on the economy. It's also worth reminding that a Washington Post-ABC News poll released in May found that Americans thought Trump did a better job handling of the economy, and by double digits. A majority, at 54 percent, believed that Trump did a better job handling the economy as president, while 36 percent said the same about Biden.



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