After 40 years of “trickle-down economics,” President Joe Biden says, “Bidenomics is just another way of saying restoring the American Dream.”
It’s not often that a politician openly pledges to bring the country back to a time of crippling inflation, high energy prices, and stifling interest rates. But this president is doing his best to keep that promise.
Unsurprisingly, “Bidenomics” is failing to gain traction among voters. This has caused consternation in the media. One thing to remember, though, is that “Bidenomics” isn’t really a thing. Unlike, say, “Reaganomics,” which helped bring about the largest expansion of the middle class in world history, the president does not subscribe to any coherent or tangible set of economic theories or principles. The White House defines its economic policy as being “rooted in the recognition that the best way to grow the economy is from the middle out and the bottom up,” which is just platitudinous gibberish.
“Bidenomics” encompass anything and everything that’s convenient for Democrats. And in this moment, it’s convenient for them to take credit for merely letting people go back to work. Biden, who once claimed that the Democrats $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan cost “zero dollars,” isn’t exactly a math whiz. But when he says stuff like “13.4 million jobs have been added to our economy” under his watch, more than “any other president in a full 4-year term,” anyone with even a passing familiarity with the events of the years preceding 2023 knows it’s a lie of omission.
The notion that presidents “create” jobs is itself a fantasy. In this case, though, Biden supported efforts to shutter private businesses during the pandemic, basically closing the entire economy, not only while running for president but after winning office. When Florida, and other states, attempted to ease some restrictions, Biden told them to “get out of the way” so that people could “do the right thing.” The pressure exerted on states to “do the right thing” was immense.
All of which is to say that the president and his allies had far more to do with destroying jobs than creating them. We don’t need to relitigate the efficacy of COVID policy here, but approximately 10 million of the jobs that Biden now brags about overseeing are just people coming back to the workforce after state-compelled lockdowns.
Then again, if “Bidenomics” had meant doing absolutely nothing, it would have been the president’s greatest political accomplishment. But that would have meant allowing a crisis to go to waste. Instead, what “Bidenomics” did help create was the biggest four-year inflationary spike under any president in 40 years.
By the time the American Rescue Plan was passed, there was already too much money chasing too few goods. Tons of people warned about the consequences of dumping more money into the economy. Even when inflation began inching up, Biden dismissed it—“no serious economist” is “suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way,” he said. Democrats, of course, wanted to cram through a $5 trillion progressive agenda spending bill. So, when inflation became a big, nontransitory political problem, the Biden administration began arguing that more spending would help ease inflation.
Again, the vital thing to remember about “Bidenomics” is that it makes absolutely zero sense.
Only after inflation became a political issue did the Democrats rename Build Back Better the Inflation Reduction Act. It still contained all the historic spending, corporate welfare, price-fixing, and tax hikes, but, more importantly, it also still had absolutely nothing to do with mitigating inflation.
None of this is to even mention the hundreds of billions “Bidenomics” “invested”—the enduring euphemism for spending money we don’t have—in social engineering projects that would force us to abandon modernity in the name of “climate justice.” This brand of spending was based on a (misguided) moral prerogative, not any kind of prudent economic decision making, to say the least.
A writer in the New Yorker recently asked, “Why Isn’t Joe Biden Getting More Credit for a Big Drop in Inflation?” Probably because there is no “Bidenomics” policy that has helped lower inflation. Quite the opposite. We’re still trying to recover from the president’s economic policy. It’s the Fed that was compelled to hike interest rates at a level not seen in 30 years to inhibit economic growth partly due to government-induced inflation. It, not Biden, brought down inflation.
Presidents who oversee strong economies, often benefitting from the luck of history or existing policies, will see fewer jobs “created” during their terms because space for growth is limited. Biden was given more economic headroom than any president in history—and blew it. That’s the real legacy of “Bidenomics.”