Biden on Economy: Americans Are ‘Personally in Good Shape’
Biden on Economy: Americans Are ‘Personally in Good Shape’

By Andrew Moran

The American people are “personally in good shape” and the United States has “the strongest economy in the world,” President Joe Biden told CNN host Erin Burnett in a rare sitdown interview touting his administration’s economic record.

In the wide-ranging interview, the president was provided with various facts about the current economic landscape, from real (inflation-adjusted) income being down since January 2021 to housing costs doubling over the past three years.

During some of former President Donald Trump’s and President Biden’s time in office, these issues have weighed on consumer confidence and voter sentiment and have resulted in low approval ratings for the incumbent’s “Bidenomics,” a nickname for his economic plan.

The president shrugged off these statistics, arguing that polling data show most Americans think they are “personally in good shape” despite their pessimism regarding the broader economy.

President Biden said he’s created millions of new jobs, allowing the public access to good-paying employment opportunities.

“When I started this administration, people were saying we’re going to have a collapsing economy,” President Biden said of the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. “We have the strongest economy in the world.”

The president also dismissed the smaller-than-expected first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) reading of 1.6 percent, alluding to the positive reaction in the financial markets.

However, as Ms. Burnett informed the president, markets have risen on hopes that weaker economic data, whether the GDP or the labor market, will force the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

“No president has had the run we’ve had in terms of creating jobs and bringing down inflation,” the president said. “It was 9 percent when I came to office. But look, people have a right to be concerned.”

The annual inflation rate was 1.4 percent in January 2021 and peaked at 9.1 percent in June 2022. Cumulatively, the consumer price index (CPI) has climbed by approximately 19 percent over the past three years. The CPI rose to a hotter-than-expected 3.5 percent last month and is expected to remain unchanged when the next inflation report is released next week.

“They have the money to spend,” President Biden said in response to Ms. Burnett’s reporting that grocery prices are up by 30 percent.

He also alleged that corporate greed and shrinkflation—the shrinking of product packages that carry, at least, the same price—were some of the leading causes of higher prices at supermarkets and in the broader marketplace.

“It angers shoppers and angers me that you have to spend more,” President Biden said. “We’ve got to deal with it, and that’s what I’m working on.”

In March, the White House announced a new Department of Justice–Federal Trade Commission strike force to combat “unfair and illegal pricing.”

Polling Prefers Trump Economy Over Biden

The economy and inflation are still the most important issues for voters and are likely to determine who they will support as their president in November, according to a new ABC News–Ipsos study.

Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower for Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 15, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s also true right now, Mr. President, that voters, by a wide margin, trust Trump more on the economy. They say that in polls,” the CNN host said.

The same ABC News–Ipsos poll reported that more Americans trust President Trump to handle the economy and inflation than President Biden.

Similar opinions are found in other surveys.

Findings from Gallup’s latest Economy and Personal Finance poll concluded that confidence in President Biden’s management of the economy is historically low compared with predecessors.

The numbers show that 46 percent of U.S. adults report having “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in former President Trump to do or recommend the right thing for the economy. By comparison, only 38 percent say the same for President Biden.

An April Reuters–Ipsos poll found that 41 percent of respondents said the real estate billionaire mogul possessed a better approach to managing the economy than President Biden, who received 34 percent.

In March, a CBS News–YouGov poll showed that 65 percent of respondents thought the economy was “good” under President Trump, while 28 percent said it was “bad”; 38 percent of U.S. voters say the current economy is “good,” and 59 percent believe it is “bad.”

Biden: Trump Didn’t Build That

President Biden has pushed back against the assertions that his predecessor had a strong economy.

“He’s never succeeded in creating jobs, and I’ve never failed,” President Biden told CNN. “I’ve created over 15 million jobs.”

The current administration has repeatedly touted this statistic, though many experts contend that it is a misleading number because it includes jobs returned from the pandemic.

Fact-checking outlet Snopes, for example, cited Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that employment stood at 152.3 million in February 2020 and then collapsed to 130.4 million two months later. Jobs lost during the pandemic were recovered in the summer of 2022 and now stand at 158.286 million.

At a Wisconsin event announcing a $3.3 billion investment from Microsoft to construct a new artificial intelligence facility, President Biden slammed his presumed 2024 opponent for failing to build anything, including an electronics factory for Taiwan’s Foxconn in 2018.

“Trump came here with your senator, Ron Johnson, literally holding a golden shovel, promising to build the eighth wonder of the world,” he said in remarks on May 8.

“Are you kidding me? Look what happened. They dug a hole with those golden shovels, and then they fell into it. Foxconn turned out to be just that—a con. Go figure.”

The White House has routinely told the American people that more work needs to be done, urging voters to help the administration finish the job.

Are these pleas working?

In Wisconsin, the latest Quinnipiac survey gives the U.S. president a six-point advantage over his GOP challenger.

Nationally, the head-to-head matchups have been tighter, with the Real Clear Politics average giving the former president a 1.2-point edge over the incumbent.

Heading into the November election, economic observers and voters will compare the presidents’ records on issues such as inflation and real disposable income per capita. It might boil down to the typical question at this point in the election cycle: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

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