BY TIMOTHY H. LEE | CFIF
For a man who ironically chose “No Malarkey!” as his campaign slogan, Joe Biden certainly traffics in it.
In the latest farcical example, witness the Biden Administration repeating for weeks on loop that he “takes classified documents very seriously,” even while continuing new discoveries confirm just the opposite.
On issues of more immediate and direct consequence for American consumers, Biden peddles a similar brand of deceit.
Attempting to spin a lackluster quarterly economic growth report, Biden served up a generous helping of malarkey:
Just this morning, we got some very good news about the American economy. Every three months, the economic outlook of America is laid out in an official report, a government report on the state of the economy. It came out today, this morning, and I’m not sure – I mean it sincerely – the news could have been any better. Economic growth is up, stronger than experts expected, at 2.9 percent, we’re growing.
In fact, the news was better just one report earlier, when third quarter growth registered 3.2%.
Moreover, economic growth was more than twice as high at 6.3% in the first quarter of 2021 when Biden entered the White House.
Biden habitually claims that the U.S. economy was “flat on its back” when he took office, but the fact is that he inherited an accelerating economy that has slowed under his mismanagement. In the third quarter of 2020 our economy grew a red-hot 35.3%, and in the fourth quarter 3.9%, a full point higher than the latest 2.9% that he claims couldn’t have been any better.
For additional context, the U.S. averaged 4% annual growth following World War II, until the Obama years brought us the most sluggish economic “recovery” in history.
For the year, our economy grew just 2.1% in 2022, a steep decline from the 5.9% growth in 2021.
Accordingly, Biden didn’t rescue the U.S. economy, he’s gradually suffocating it.
This week, a new report found that the number of Americans now living paycheck-to-paycheck rose to 64%, including 51% of Americans earning over $100,000 annually:
Sixty-four percent of U.S. consumers (166 million) were living paycheck to paycheck in December 2022, up 3 percentage points from 61% the year prior, with the most growth seen in higher income brackets. In fact, 9.3 million more consumers are now living paycheck to paycheck, and eight million, or 86%, of those consumers earn more than $100,000 annually.
In December 2022, 51% of consumers earning more than $100,000 annually said they lived paycheck to paycheck, up 9 percentage points from 42% in December 2021… The data also finds that an increasing number of consumers earing more than $100,000 are living paycheck to paycheck with difficulty paying their monthly bills. In December 2022, 16% of these high-income paycheck-to-paycheck consumers struggled to pay their monthly bills, up from 11% in December 2021.
Elsewhere, don’t look now, but gas prices are rising again. Prices this week averaged $3.51 per gallon, up from $3.21 a month ago, and $3.38 this time last year. Biden enjoyed portraying declining gas prices as a triumph when they were declining from their peak of $5.02 in June of last year, conveniently omitting that they’d risen from $2.39 on January 20, 2021 when he took office. But now that they’re rising again, he’s abandoned discussing gas prices at all.
Meanwhile, inflation remained 5% or higher for the twentieth consecutive month, the longest streak in four decades. Again for context, inflation was 1.4% in January 2021 when Biden entered office.
Separately, Freddie Mac reported that 57% of U.S. consumers expressed concern about making their monthly housing payments in the fourth quarter of 2022, up from 48% in the third quarter. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York also reported that U.S. credit card balances rose 15% year-over-year in the third quarter, the largest annual increase in over 20 years.
So how is the Biden Administration responding? By continuing to advocate higher taxes, more regulation, harassing employers and irrationally targeting short-term lenders, which will only end up driving strapped consumers to seek illegal loansharks, suffer overdrafts or simply fail to cover their bills.
Biden continually tells audiences that he’s building the U.S. economy from the middle out and the bottom up. According to the accumulating numbers and his stubborn commitment to change “nothing” on his policy agenda, however, that’s just malarkey.