The reality of Bidenomics is that nothing is better

Opinion by Salena Zito

GYPSUM, Colorado — President Joe Biden briefly came here to Eagle County 10 months ago to dedicate his first national monument as president. It didn’t take all that long for that speech to become political, with him bragging about the Inflation Reduction Act he had just signed, saying it “constituted the largest investment in climate ever in [the] history of the world.”

He also said in that speech that his son Beau lost his life in Iraq, which isn’t true, but that is a story for another day.

Ten months later, inflation continues to run significantly above the average for the last quarter century. The latest inflation numbers are lower than they were at their peak of 9.1% in 2022, but prices continue to rise. Prices today are 3% higher than they were last year, which were 9.1% higher than they were a year before. So even if the rate of price increases has slowed, it is not as though consumers are getting a discount.

Yet when that 3% number was announced last month, Jared Bernstein, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, was quick to say “Inflation is down by two-thirds over the past year” and that “steep” decline was a testament to “Bidenomics” at the same time employment remained strong.

Again making it seem as though the high costs of everything that we have all experienced for the past two years had magically shrunk to 3%.

In typical Biden White House fashion, the Biden team took credit for something few of us feel by saying, “Good jobs and lower costs: That’s Bidenomics in action.”

Prices are still really high. Really high. Gas prices here in Eagle County last week were well over $4.24 a gallon for regular. In Kansas they were $3.65 a gallon on my drive home across the country. Just days earlier, on my way out, they had been a substantially lower $3.24.

In the same trip, Iowa gas prices jumped a whopping 46.1 cents and, according to GasBuddy, they are inching toward last year’s astronomical numbers.

Higher gas prices mean higher prices for everything we do. Consider the food we eat, whether purchased at the grocery store, a farmers market, or a restaurant. To get that food from a farm to a table requires fuel, and if it costs a farmer, grocer, or restaurant owner more to grow, stock, or serve your food, those costs are going to be handed down to you.

Yet Biden seems exquisitely out of touch with the hurt people are feeling — so much so that he is spending the next few days campaigning on how his policies are making a strong economy.

When filling your gas tank costs more than $75, it’s not hard to understand why recent polling has shown voters are saying no thanks to Bidenomics. The most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week showed that some of Biden’s 2020 voters believe the economy has fared poorly under his stewardship and they might not vote for him in the 2024 election.

In that same poll, half of the respondents who voted for Biden in 2020 said they have heard little or nothing of his major policy initiatives to reduce inflation or boost spending on infrastructure.

They have, however, heard him say plenty about the climate — which he once again focused on in Arizona on Tuesday at yet another monument designation that he tied to the administration’s push to combat climate change.

On Wednesday he will go on to Albuquerque, where he will claim that fighting climate change has created new jobs.

Like “Build Back Better,” then the Inflation Reduction Act, Bidenomics is Biden’s third attempt at trying to find a way to tell voters his economic way is the best way for them. Nonetheless, several weeks into the brand push, voters aren’t feeling any better about their lives or their futures no matter how many times Biden says the words Bidenomics.

Part of Biden’s problem is he isn’t feeling what his countrymen are feeling, nor does he know anyone who is feeling the pain. When you become entrenched in the Washington, D.C., world of money and power, it’s very difficult to relate to people who perhaps got a raise but sure don’t feel it because the cost of food, necessities, housing, and utilities have eaten into any extra dollars they have in their paychecks.

A recent poll conducted for Bloomberg showed a dismal 39% of middle-class respondents say they expect their economic situation to get better in the next year.

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That’s a stark contrast to Biden’s recent quip that “Bidenomics is about building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down.”

Biden’s challenge is how voters view Bidenomics — which, in truth, is just a superlative built on ideology that talks plenty about climate but does little to produce economic prosperity.

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