US President Joe Biden has laid out a broad economic plan that he says will help restore the “American dream” as he prepares for the 2024 presidential election.
Speaking from Chicago, Illinois, Biden on Wednesday outlined his proposal for “Bidenomics” — a term he admitted he didn’t coin but has since claimed. He explained that his economic policies would be aimed at strengthening the middle class while countering policies that favor wealthy investors and companies.
“This view is a fundamental break from economic theory that has failed the American middle class for decades. It’s called trickle-down economics,” Biden said Wednesday, rejecting a conservative theory that has dominated American politics.
“Trickle-down economics” was championed in the 1980s under former Republican President Ronald Reagan and has been pushed in various forms by subsequent Republican leaders.
But on Wednesday, Biden offered a broad side against the theory, which refers to the belief that tax cuts and other benefits for the wealthy will eventually “spill through” and captivate all levels of society.
The approach, Biden said, was responsible for moving industries overseas, curbing government investment and suppressing competition.
“The latest iteration” of that “failed theory,” Biden added, came under former President Donald Trump, a frontrunner to be the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election.
In 2017, Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, granting companies drastic tax breaks. It also cut taxes for the majority of US households, although higher incomes benefited disproportionately.
Looking for a contrast to his predecessor – and current competitor in the 2024 race – Biden explained that he would try to grow the economy “from the middle and bottom, rather than just from the top.”
According to his plan, he said, “the poor have a ladder up and the rich are still doing well”.
The speech served as a preview of what will likely become the centerpiece of Biden’s re-election campaign. But the president faces an uphill battle to win over public opinion.
Recent polls show lagging support for Biden’s economic leadership. An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey found that only one in three American adults approved of his approach.
The White House has sought to allay concerns about the volatile economy in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Monthly job creation exceeded expectations, but inflation remains high despite steady declines.
Meanwhile, warnings of an impending recession persisted. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged that a recession is “certainly possible” but said it is “not the most likely case.” Biden also told reporters on Tuesday that he did not expect a recession.
Some observers have noted that the rollout of “Bidenomics” appears to be part of a broader effort to unify Biden’s legislative victories into a more coherent ideology, emphasizing the benefits of the middle class.
Some foreign policy analysts have also noted that Biden’s policies sometimes resemble a repackaged version of Trump’s “America First” approach, prioritizing domestic investment over international engagement.
In a statement released Wednesday, the White House identified the three pillars of “Bidenomics.” The first was “making smart public investments in America,” followed by “enabling and educating workers to grow the middle class” and “fostering competition to lower costs and help entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive.”
The release praised legislation passed under Biden, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill, a bill to boost domestic semiconductor production, and investment in domestic clean energy industries. It also praised a new $42 billion initiative that aims to bring high-speed internet across the country.
Republicans were quick to catch on to the new coverage, with Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy calling Bidenomics “blind faith in government spending and regulation.”
Trump’s campaign also sent an email blast during Biden’s speech, saying the Democrat’s economic approach would mean “high taxes, crippling regulation, crushing inflation, war on American energy.” [and] rising energy costs”.
White House officials were eloquent when asked why the administration embraced the “Bidenomics” label, which first appeared in critical coverage of Biden’s policies. Ever since Reagan’s “Reaganomics,” presidents have tried to merge their names with their economic plans, with varying degrees of success.
‘Don’t you like Bidenomics? I think it’s pretty smart. It’s pretty good,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday when asked about the label. “It makes sense, Bidenomics. It flows very well off the tongue.”