President Biden and the Democrats, who are trying to defend their majorities in the House and Senate, face serious political headwinds caused by high inflation, a volatile stock market and fears of a deepening recession.
The president, relying on a massive economic recovery, launched an ambitious recovery plan two years ago and sent his party to another sweep of Congress to help the job market recover and struggling households. empowered.
In late summer, after enduring the scourge of rising prices and strained supply chains, the president and his party saw a string of economic and policy victories.
Gas prices fell and Democrats banded together to pass climate and healthcare bills. The United States is also enjoying its strongest jobs in decades, adding more than 10 million jobs since Biden took office and more than 3.8 million jobs this year alone.
But the outlook for the US economy is darkening again.
While the latest inflation report deepens the risks facing the US economy, it could do a lot of damage to the president and his party.
Consumer prices rose 8.2% over the past 12 months, up 0.4% last month alone, according to the Labor Department’s CPI data released on Thursday.
Annual inflation has fallen steadily since June, but higher prices for food, housing, health care and travel are weighing on household budgets.
Retail sales also flattened out in September, according to data released by the Census Bureau on Friday.
“Inflation is a major factor in determining how much shoppers are willing to spend. ,” Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, explained in an analysis on Friday.
Fiscal pressures are also squeezing voter confidence in Biden and the Democrats’ ability to pull the United States out of the quagmire.
A poll by The Economist and YouGov earlier this week found that only 28% of Americans believe the United States is heading in the right direction.
A poll of 1,500 U.S. citizens found that 41% of Democrats, 53% of independents, and 78% of Republicans believe the U.S. I understand that you think you are already in recession.
“When you go to the grocery store, everything is so expensive that it often costs more than the last time you went. ‘s biggest problem,” said Doug Hay, a Republican strategist and former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, in an interview Thursday.
“You’re either paying more or choosing not to spend that money. And it’s every day. Nothing compares to that,” he added.
Republicans have blamed Biden and Democrats for the rapid inflation facing U.S. households since prices began rising last summer. Republican lawmakers say his $1.9 trillion bailout plan, signed by Biden in March 2021, is the main reason Americans are struggling with rising prices.
“Wages are going down, prices are going up, and Democrats are to blame no one but themselves. Americans know they are voting for the economy.
Most economists believe Biden’s stimulus has spurred higher inflation, but it’s not the only factor driving prices higher. Inflation is high around the world and Democrats are eager to keep the US economy strong against their global peers.
Biden and Democratic lawmakers have tried to emphasize a rapid recovery in the job market and a return to the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.5%. Democrats are also seeking support for the recently enacted Reduce Inflation Act, a bill aimed at lowering prices for prescriptions, health care and energy.
“The challenge for candidates is not just to find the one, two, or three that resonate most with voters and explain their impact, but also what they oppose in a particular neighborhood or district. It’s about reminding voters of the comparison to .” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright in an interview Thursday.
“In the next few days, these people need no apology for what was done in a historic fashion,” Seawright said.
Unfortunately for Democrats, inflation resonates more with voters than the party’s attempts to mitigate it.
Fifty-one percent of respondents to the Economist-YouGov poll say inflation is the most important factor when assessing the strength of an economy. Only 15% said the unemployment rate was the main way they judged the economy.
And only 12% of Democrats, 4% of Independents and 4% of Republicans believe that unemployment is more important than inflation.
Seawright said it was essential for Democrats to highlight attempts to keep prices down through anti-inflation laws, Biden’s efforts to normalize supply chains, and the administration’s attempts to boost energy production. Stated. He also said the lack of a Republican plan to combat inflation would give the Democrats a good foil for their campaign to win over voters.
“Comparing that to what the Republicans have tried to deny and what they have refused to offer in the solution, hopefully it’s not going to be easy for voters,” he said.
But Hay countered that Republicans didn’t need a solution to quell concerns about inflation and the economy. He compared the upcoming election to the 2010 midterm elections, when Republicans took control of the House and Senate on promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Ultimately in politics, identifying a problem tends to be more rewarding than offering a solution, and given the level of voter anger over this, it could be a winning strategy,” he said. Told.