Politics

Debate Showed Biden Still Trapped in His Old Economic Lies

Biden Lives in a World of Economic Lies

President Biden demonstrated again last night that he is completely untethered from the truth about the American economy and unprepared to discuss the nation’s economic challenges.

All the public opinion surveys show that inflation is the top issue for voters, so it was natural that the CNN moderators of last night’s debate led off with a question on inflation. Yet Biden seemed to be taken by surprise by the question, unprepared for what should have been the most practiced line of inquiry during his debate preparation sojourn at Camp David this week.

“President Biden, inflation has slowed, but prices remain high. Since you took office, the price of essentials has increased. For example, a basket of groceries that cost $100, then, now costs more than $120. And typical home prices have jumped more than 30 percent,” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked. “What do you say to voters who feel they are worse off under your presidency than they were under President Trump?”

Tapper’s question was well-stated. The consumer price index (CPI) for “food at home”—known as groceries to those of us who do not work in the Bureau of Labor Statistics—is up 20.8 percent since Biden took office, the biggest increases over a similar time period since the early 1980s. Home prices have soared.

What’s more, voters do think economic conditions have worsened. Polls routinely find that more than forty percent of Americans say the economy is worse now than when Trump was in office, with half as many saying it has improved. The most recent survey for the New York Times by Sienna College found 79 percent of the public rate the economy as “fair” or “poor,” versus 21 percent who give it good marks.

Flashback to 2020’s Lies About the Economy

Biden’s response was to return to the malarkey he peddled back on the campaign trail in 2020.

“We’ve got to take a look at what I was left when I became president, what Mr. Trump left me. We had an economy that was in free fall. The pandemic was so badly handled,” Biden said. “The economy collapsed. There were no jobs. The unemployment rate rose to 15 percent. It was terrible.”

The economy was not in anything like a free fall in early 2021. The economy had suffered a serious downturn in 2020 when the pandemic struck, with gross domestic product falling at a 5.3 percent annual rate in the first quarter and then nosediving at a 28 percent rate in the second quarter.

But then we experienced what Larry Kudlow, then Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, called a “v-shaped recovery.” In the third quarter of 2020, the economy grew at a 34.8 percent annual rate. In the fourth quarter, it grew 4.2 percent. When Biden took office, the economy was growing at a 5.2 percent annual rate.

The economy was not in a free fall but had been ascending into orbit at escape velocity for three consecutive quarters. The economic rescue plans put together by the Trump administration and supported across the aisle in Congress, together with the Fed’s stimulative monetary policy, combined with the reopening of the economy and the public’s rejection of the stay-home forever attitude of the far left had created truly explosive growth.

President Donald Trump takes questions from the press at a coronavirus update briefing on March 14, 2020, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr)

Biden at the time denied any of this was happening, and the establishment media went along with his mendacity, supporting the claim that the economy was in ruins because of how Trump had handled the pandemic. Never mind that Biden never quite got around to explaining how anything he would have done differently would have lessened the contraction or ameliorated the rise in unemployment. Indeed, the stricter lockdown and social distancing policies favored by most Democrats would surely have made the economic downturn even worse.

Caught in the Web of Mendacity

But because Biden had campaigned on the lie of an economy in ruins, his administration could not allow the economy to continue to recover on its own. That would have amounted to an acknowledgement that Trump’s policies had worked. So, another huge round of stimulus became a political necessity.

President Joe Biden, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), delivers remarks on the American Rescue Plan on March 12, 2021, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz via Flickr)

A more prudent president would have gone with a small program that might have provided some stimulus as a kind of insurance policy against a double-dip recession, just enough extra funding to allow his administration to claim credit for the recovery. But the Biden White House went for trillions in spending, beginning with the reckless $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, that even prominent liberal economists warned would throw us into an inflation crisis.

What America learned last night is that Biden is still attached to the false narrative of a Trump-ruined economy—and therefore still blind to what caused the inflation crisis. Given this detachment from reality, it is no wonder that Americans do not trust Biden’s economic stewardship.

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