Politics

Wages Haven’t Kept up with Inflation Under Biden, Ignoring Warnings About Overstimulus ‘Paid Off’

During an interview with CBS’s “The Takeout” podcast that took place before the release of the February inflation numbers that showed a drop in real wages from January to February, acting Labor Secretary Julie Su acknowledged that wages have not kept up with inflation since President Joe Biden’s first full month in office back in February 2021. And that President Joe Biden’s response to those who said, “you can’t put too much money out into people’s pockets, that’s going to be a bad thing,” “was, no, I’d rather go too big than too small here. And that has paid off beautifully, in terms of the recovery.” And that Biden responded to those who thought the spending in the American Rescue Plan was too much by taking the approach that “there’s no such thing as too much” “good for the American worker.”

Host Major Garrett asked, [relevant exchange begins around 23:10] “At the State of the Union…the President of the United States, talking about the U.S. economy, said the following: ‘The landing is and will be soft.’ True?”

Su answered, “So, 14.9 million jobs created since this President came into office. We have had an unemployment rate of under 4% for two years and running. It’s the longest stretch in 50 years. Labor force participation remains strong. For women, it’s been especially strong, prime-age working women. And real wages are up. That means for — especially for low-and-middle-income Americans, wages have outpaced inflation. I think that all of those numbers, even if you took one or two of them, but all together, that is pretty much the softest landing that you could imagine.”

Later, Garrett asked, “You mentioned, and I think this was accurate in terms of the last year, the last 12 months, wages have outpaced inflation. But they didn’t the two previous years, correct?”

Su answered, “Yeah.”

Garrett then asked, “So, inflation writ large is still a factor, not only in terms of politics, but I’m not talking politics, I’m just talking about real wages on an hourly basis are not where they were February of 2021, the first full month of this administration, correct?”

Su responded, “That’s right. Inflation has come down by like two-thirds. At its peak, it was something like 9%. Now, it’s somewhere near 3%. We’ll see new inflation numbers for February. But I do think the point here has to be, the story of our economy is, we came back from the wreckage of COVID, and the President bet big, bet big on the American people, bet big on the American worker. Many people said, if you do the kind of investments we’re talking about in the American Rescue Plan, it’s going to…be too hot. It’s too much. I think the President believes — he made it clear in the State of the Union — there’s no such thing as too much that’s — too much good for the American worker.”

Later, Su said, [relevant remarks begin around 40:45] “I will say, in the immediate aftermath, when President Biden first came into office, his response, including to people who said, oh, you can’t put too much money out into people’s pockets, that’s going to be a bad thing, was, no, I’d rather go too big than too small here. And that has paid off beautifully, in terms of the recovery.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett



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