White House goes all in on ‘Bidenomics’

June 27, 2023 | By Alex Gangitano

The Hill

President Biden is attempting to coin a term central to his economic message in 2024: “Bidenomics,” using the slogan to highlight the work his administration has done to turn the economy around while differentiating his agenda from Republicans.

The president is set to tout his own economic agenda to argue that building the economy from the bottom up and the middle out is working. He has often said he is tired of trickle-down economics, which was part of former President Reagan’s “Reaganomics,” while at the same time reminding voters that he is a capitalist. 

The White House has been on the defense when it comes to the economy, especially as it emerged at times chaotically from the pandemic, arguing that a recession is not inevitable and that the low unemployment rate backs up that notion. 

Now, the administration and Biden’s campaign can use last month’s slightly ticked down inflation report to back the notion that the president has been able to turn the economy around – but he’ll have work to do to convince some voters who feel financially worse off.

Biden heads to Chicago on Wednesday to talk “Bidenomics,” remarks that the White House is billing as a major address. The president will also fundraise while in Chicago, hitting another blue stronghold for cash ahead of his first 2024 campaign finance report in July.

Ahead of the Chicago trip, the White House fielded questions over the risks of self-branding an economic policy and why now, considering the inflation rate could hike again next month. While the Federal Reserve opted last month to not raise interest rates, it made clear that it could reassess that decision next month, marking perhaps just a temporary reprieve for Americans.

“Even if the economy is doing well, the Republicans will say it’s doing poorly. So, we’re not going to spend a huge amount of time worrying about them,” senior adviser Anita Dunn said on MSNBC on Monday. “It’s an appropriate time now that everything is in place and some of these huge effects are just starting to be felt, to really go out and define for the American people what this is all about and why it’s going to work for him.”

Republicans are set to keep playing the drumbeat that the economy is not strong, pointing to the higher-than-normal prices of food and fuel, as well as housing and car loans. 

Meanwhile, the White House is embarking on the second stint of its “Investing in America tour” this summer, which involves Cabinet members and officials traveling to over 20 states to argue that Republicans want to send jobs and factories oversees.

The Republican National Committee (RNC), meanwhile, is coining it “Biden’s Bankrupting America Tour.”

“Joe Biden has created crisis after crisis, and every stop on this tour will remind voters of the suffering his failed agenda has caused. With sky-high inflation, soaring violent crime, a humanitarian and drug crisis at the border, and weakness on the world stage, Americans do not want another four years under Biden,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

And, the conservative-leaning Job Creators Network said that Biden is hiding his failed economic policies behind the ‘Bidenomics’ rebrand, calling it a PR stunt.

“Calling this failed economic agenda ‘Bidenomics’ won’t change the fact that Biden’s presidency will be forever remembered by Bidenflation and stagflation,” the group’s CEO Alfredo Ortiz said in a statement.

The president tested out his campaign strategy on the economy with big labor earlier this month, in a speech in Philadelphia soon after receiving endorsements from several major union groups like the AFL-CIO. 

He said at the time that he believes “this country’s about to take off,” and that the investments under his administration so far “have the power to transform this country for the next five decades.” 

On Monday, the president bashed trickle-down economics during an announcement about a $40 billion investment to connect Americans to affordable, high-speed internet. The White House has said that such investments are a key part of the “Bidenomics” agenda.

“For decades the middle class was hollowed out,” Biden said on Monday. “All that is a result of the failed economic policy of what I call trickle-down economics.” 

The “Bidenomics” soft launch came via a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this month, during which the president laid out his argument that his economic plan is working because of job creation and falling inflation. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday said “Bidenomics” “makes good sense” and that “it kind of flows off the tongue really well.” 

“We believe Reaganomics doesn’t work,” Jean-Pierre said. “We believe that trickle-down… economy doesn’t work, it has not worked and it’s shown to be the case for decades.”

Other presidents have tried to create a term that defines their agendas, most notably former President Obama who is historically tied to the term Obamacare, which is a nickname for a policy staple of his presidency, the Affordable Care Act. 

“From Reaganomics to Clintonomics to Trumponomics to Bidenomics, every President aims to tie themselves to good economic news and blame others for any downturns,” said Bruce Mehlman, former assistant secretary at the Commerce Department under President George W. Bush. 

“Tying himself to low unemployment, falling inflation and a manufacturing investment super-cycle is a no-brainer for Biden, as long as it persists,” added Mehlman, a founding partner at Mehlman Consulting.

The White House is expressing confidence that more positive news will last.

Biden’s approval rating has been lingering around a 40 percent, with Americans consistently citing the economy as their top concern. Dunn on Monday argued that Americans are starting to see the effects of Biden’s economic plan, which will eventually translate to more support.

“If Reaganomics was based on the idea that if you cut taxes for the wealthiest corporations, the wealthiest people in the society, and that at some point the remnants of those will trickle down to the middle class and the working class— ‘Bidenomics’ is the exact opposite,” she said.