With the banking system seemingly stabilized, President Joe Biden is hoping he can return to pitching his economic credentials to the public.
But his “Investing in America” tour, an apparent precursor to a 2024 reelection campaign and a political counterpoint to former President Donald Trump’s legal problems, comes amid persistent inflation, another interest rate hike, the surprise collapse of two regional banks, and the potential that his administration will not be able to avoid a recession.
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The country will reject Biden’s overtures regarding the economy, his “reckless” budget underscoring “how out of touch his administration is with reality,” according to the Republican National Committee.
“Paychecks are worth less, the cost for everything is up, and Biden’s $6.9 trillion tax-and-spending spree will only worsen the economic burden on families,” RNC spokesman Nainoa Johsens told the Washington Examiner.
Biden’s average economic job approval tends to be lower than when pollsters ask respondents about his overall performance, according to RealClearPolitics. Biden’s average economic approval is net negative 20 percentage points, 38% to 58%. The statistical spread for his overall rating is a narrower net negative 9 points, 43% to 52%. An average of 27% of respondents tell pollsters they consider the country to be heading in the right direction, while 63% say it is on the wrong track, a net negative 36-point differential.
Biden had sought to change public perception about his economic management in January when December inflation data indicated consumer prices had eased the most during any month since the start of the pandemic. But then sticker shock during the first four weeks of the year, published in February, was higher than economists expected, interest rates continued to rise, and there was a run on deposits at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
Some Democrats contend “extreme,” “radical” MAGA Republicans” could mitigate economic concerns as, they claim, it did during last year’s elections after the Supreme Court overturned abortion precedent Roe v. Wade through its opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. House GOP candidates were anticipated to sweep the chamber as they did during former Presidents Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s first midterm cycle. Instead, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) only has a four-seat majority.
The economy is always important in presidential elections, not the only factor but an important one, according to Democratic strategist and pollster Mark Mellman.
“If it’s going well, the incumbent party is rewarded,” the Mellman Group president and CEO said. “If it’s going poorly, the incumbent is punished. But again, it’s far from the only factor — especially if Trump is on the ballot.”
That comparison will be even more pronounced next week as the New York grand jury impaneled by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg reconvenes on Monday to discuss whether Trump should be indicted with a misdemeanor or felony charge for falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her discretion concerning their sexual encounter.
For Third Way think tank co-founder and Clinton administration alumnus Matt Bennett, there is “zero doubt” the economy will be the “most important” issue next year, at least according to polls.
“But voters don’t act like robots — they don’t make purely optimized decisions based on issue preference,” Bennett said. “Instead, they vote on a feeling — which candidate do I trust? Which shares my values and understands my life?”
“The candidate and their party’s approach to the economy will play a big role in that but so will other things — fears about access to abortion, gun violence, etc.,” he added. “In 2022, voters in most close races chose the candidates they viewed as mainstream over the one they felt was extreme. If Republicans nominate a bunch of radicals again in 2024, and especially if a MAGA radical leads their ticket, that will be a big part of the calculus.”
Biden will roll out the three-week 20-state administration-wide Investing in America tour next Tuesday, with the president traveling first to a North Carolina chips manufacturer.
“The tour will reinforce what’s at stake for hardworking families across the country if Republicans in Congress get their way and repeal the Inflation Reduction Act and slash funding for manufacturing, research, and innovation,” a White House official said. “The tour will also coincide with the two-week April recess in Congress, and many of the stops on the Investing in America tour will include stops with members of Congress who were instrumental in getting these bills passed.”
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Biden still has not announced his reelection bid despite speculation he will in April based on historical precedent and fundraising disclosure deadlines.
“The president has said many times that he intends to run,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters this week. “I’m not going to go beyond that. That is for the president to decide, clearly.”