Candidate Biden Looks to Turn the Economy Into an Asset

The president has taken the economy – once a political vulnerability for him – and tried to make it an asset, bragging about the success of ‘Bidenomics.’

President Joe Biden took to the White House lectern Friday to tout the healthy economy – strong job creation, lowering inflation and increased workforce participation and job satisfaction.

It’s a message the president has imparted frequently during his first two years in office. Only now, the messenger sounds more like Biden the candidate than Biden the chief government steward of the nation’s economy.

After noting that the economy added another 187,000 jobs in August – bringing total job creation to 13.5 million in Biden’s time in office – the president took a shot at his likely 2024 opponent, former President Donald Trump.

“It wasn’t that long ago that America was losing jobs. In fact, my predecessor was one of only two presidents in history who entered his presidency and left with fewer jobs than when he entered,” Biden said in remarks in the Rose Garden.

“It’s no accident,” the president said. “I came into office determined to build the economy from the middle out and the bottom up – not the top down. When the middle class does well … everyone does well,” the president added. “The wealthy do very well, the poor have a shot, and the middle class can make a living.”

“Today, we have the strongest economy in the world,” Biden said.

The president also obliquely criticized his “predecessor,” whom Biden almost never refers to by name – a slap at a man who puts his name on a wide range of products and refers to himself in the third person – for suppressing wages for middle-income workers.

Political Cartoons on Joe Biden

The Biden administration recently announced proposed new rules to raise the income threshold for workers entitled to time-and-a-half in overtime pay. Currently, those who earn more than $35,568 a year and are not hourly employees are not entitled to overtime pay.

The new rule would raise the threshold to $55,000 a year and would raise pay for an estimated 3.6 million Americans.

In the future, the pay threshold will go up automatically every three years, Biden said – reinstating an Obama-Biden era policy Trump tossed after he became president.

Biden has taken the economy – once a political vulnerability for him – and tried to make it an asset, bragging about the success of “Bidenomics.”

But polling shows the public does not see it that way: A survey by the Associated Press/NORC in mid-August found that just 36% of Americans approve of Biden’s performance on the economy, lower than the 42% who approve of the president’s overall performance.

For the public, the hard number may not translate into personal reality.

The number of jobs created is indeed high under Biden’s time in office, but it’s not a direct comparison to presidents in office decades ago, since the population and workforce are both larger now.

When the numbers are calculated according to a percentage increase in the number of jobs, Biden’s performance is somewhere in the middle – well behind the percentage job increases under President Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton, according to the nonpartisan website PolitiFact. Trump, however, indeed saw job losses both in terms of actual numbers and as a percentage of the workforce, the site notes.

Biden noted Friday that inflation had slowed to 3% – the lowest rate among major economies and far less than it was a year ago. But global comparisons don’t mean much to Americans still feeling the sting of higher grocery and gas prices, even if the inflation rate is easing.

Inflation led the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates – an approach that makes sense from an overall economic perspective but hurts American consumers looking to buy homes or cars.

Biden is headed to Pennsylvania on Monday for Labor Day, to talk about the economy and the impact of labor unions on wages and workplace standards for all.