Amid tenacious inflation and low approval ratings, President Joe Biden touted “Bidenomics” as the best economic path forward before a Chicago audience.
“Guess what? Bidenomics is working,” Biden said Wednesday.
His address at Chicago’s Old Post Office comes as only 34% of Americans say Biden has handled the economy well, according to a survey by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Critics often have referred negatively to the president’s economic policies as “Bidenomics,” and now he apparently is seeking to rehabilitate that term. Signs featuring the word “Bidenomics” surrounded him during the speech.
Biden said that The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times invented the term.
“I didn’t come up with the name,” the president said, to some laughter. “I really didn’t. I now claim it, but they’re the ones that used it first.”
(He didn’t mention another term often used by critics: Bidenflation.)
At one point, while criticizing “trickle-down economics,” Biden digressed to say: “If my mom were here, God bless his soul.”
At another point, Biden asserted: “We’re replacing every single lead pipe in this country and putting our healthier—our children’s health back directly.”
Biden made several claims in the speech that were unverifiable, unusual, or plain false.
Here are five questionable passages in the president’s speech.
1. Biden, Xi, and ‘17,000 Miles’
Days after the surfacing of controversial text messages from his son, Hunter Biden, to a Chinese business partner, the president spoke about his close ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In doing so, the president gave a statistic that already has been fact-checked by the left-leaning Washington Post.
“I traveled 17,000 miles and spoke with him more than any other head of state,” Biden said, adding:
It started when I was vice president. President Hu [Jintao] was president and [Xi] was the vice president. We knew he was going to be the successor. It was inappropriate at that time for Barack [Obama] to spend that time with him. But I spent a lot of time with him.
I met alone with him, just he and I and a simultaneous interpreter 68 times, 68 hours, 68 times, more than 68 hours. By the way, I turned in all my notes. [Laughter]
But, [Xi] asked me, ‘Can you define America for me?’ I said yes, in one word, and I meant it. Possibilities. We’re a land of possibilities. I told him it’s never been a good bet to bet against America.
Less than one month into Biden’s term, The Washington Post fact-checked his claim of “17,000 miles.” The newspaper concluded: “Biden is using a figure that cannot be verified in a misleading way.”
The Post’s “Fact Checker” columnist, Glenn Kessler, gave Biden “three Pinocchios” out of a maximum of four for straying from the facts.
“The White House did not offer an explanation for how Biden calculated 17,000 miles. But clearly it’s a number he deems important enough to repeat often,” Kessler wrote.
The Post’s article notes that one White House official said “traveling with” Xi is not accurate, but was a “reference to the total travel back and forth—both internally in the U.S. and China, and as well as internationally—for meetings they held together.”
Still, the Post’s Kessler wrote that those numbers also don’t add up.
In his remarks in Chicago, Biden said, “I kept all my notes,” an apparent reference to his predecessor, Donald Trump, recently indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents.
Biden’s claim about not keeping all his notes, whatever he did with them, hasn’t been adjudicated.
The president is under federal investigation by special counsel Robert Hur for possessing classified information from his eight years as vice president and 36 years in the Senate.
2. Delaware and ‘Trickle-Down Economics‘
In one ironic twist, Biden praised his home state of Delaware and blasted “trickle-down economics,” or the use of tax cuts for high earners and businesses to spur job creation and increase employment. Democrats often use that phrase to denigrate President Ronald Reagan’s successful economic policies.
“This is a fundamental break from the economic theory that has failed America’s middle class for decades now. It’s called trickle-down economics, fundamental economics,” Biden said, before digressing.
“The idea was that we should cut taxes for the wealthy and big corporations. I know some corporations, more corporations in Delaware [are] incorporated than every other state in the union combined,” Biden said. “I want us to do well, but I’m tired of us waiting for the trickle down.”
With regard to Biden’s boast about Delaware having the most incorporated companies, this second smallest state in the country has more than 60% of Fortune 500 companies. These corporations include Amazon, Google, Tesla, Walmart, American Express, and Disney.
That’s largely because of the state’s longstanding tax environment, as well as legal and liability protections established by state law. Whether these tax and regulatory rules amount to “trickle-down economics” is debatable, but they certainly are favorable to businesses.
“Folks, let me say this as clearly as I can: The trickle-down approach has failed the middle class, it failed America,” Biden said.
The term “trickle-down economics” often is associated with Reagan’s policies in the 1980s, when as president he cut taxes and scaled back regulations. This approach helped create 20 million new jobs and increased middle-class income by 11% over the decade, according to a 1995 report from Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee.
Further, under Reagan, inflation dropped from 13.5% during the 1980 presidential campaign to 4.1% by 1988. Unemployment fell from 7.6% to 5.5%, and real gross national product rose 26%.
3. ‘Reducing the Deficit’
In his Chicago speech, Biden again claimed that he has reduced the budget deficit.
“There are going to be no more overdrafts,” the president said. “Folks, we are doing this and reducing the deficit at the same time. Just in my first two years in office, my team and I have reduced the deficit by $1.7 trillion.”
Biden added that his latest budget proposal to Congress—unlikely to pass as is—would reduce the deficit by another $1 trillion.
However, lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic drop in tax revenue because of poor economic activity paired with dramatic government spending increases.
The fiscal 2020 budget deficit under President Donald Trump was a record $3.3 trillion, said David Ditch, a senior policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation, parent organization of The Daily Signal.
Economists considered a bounce back to be inevitable, with the Congressional Budget Office predicting in February 2021 that the federal budget deficit would decline significantly between fiscal years 2020 and 2022. An updated CBO report this past February, however, showed that the budget deficit under Biden was $319 billion higher than expected when he took office Jan. 20, 2021.
Further, an analyst for Moody’s Analytics told the left-leaning CNN last month: “The actions of the [Biden] administration and Congress have undoubtedly resulted in higher deficits, not smaller ones.”
4. ‘13.4 Million New Jobs’
Biden told his Chicago audience that his policies restored jobs.
“Today, the U.S. has the highest economic growth rate, leading the world economy since the pandemic,” the president said. “This helped create 13.4 million new jobs, more jobs in two years than any president has ever created before. Folks, it’s no accident. That’s Bidenomics in action.”
Similar to the president’s boasts about deficit reduction, his boasts about job growth are tied entirely to the near-unprecedented economic impact of the pandemic.
The economy lost 20.5 million jobs in March 2020, the first month of the national shutdown, an unprecedented decrease. Further, 41% of lost jobs recouped after the initial COVID-19 outbreak were manufacturing jobs, EJ Antoni, a research fellow in economics at The Heritage Foundation, wrote in February.
“Recovering lost jobs is hardly the same, however, as job ‘creation,’ a word that the president uses frequently,” Antoni wrote. “Yet, even if Biden wants to play that game, he still doesn’t win. Using Biden’s own logic, President Donald Trump added 12.5 million jobs in nine months, averaging 1.4 million jobs per month. Biden has added 12.1 million jobs in two years, averaging 500,000 jobs per month.”
What Biden inherited was an economy growing at a $1.5 trillion annualized rate—hardly ‘reeling,’ as he now describes it. And yet, the economy managed two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth a year and a half after Biden took office, with many economists forecasting negative growth to return this year.
5. Falling Inflation
Biden also boasted about reducing inflation.
“Today, inflation is less than half— less than half of what it was a year ago—and that inflation [was] caused by Russia and by the war in Ukraine and by what was going on,” Biden said. “But we knew we had more to do. There’s more than one way to bring down the costs.”
The Labor Department announced that inflation was at 4% for May, below 4.9% in April and well below the 40-year high of 9.1% in June 2022.
However, when Biden took office in January 2021, the inflation rate under Trump was only 1.7%.
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