President Joe Biden told a group of business and labor leaders Friday that it would take a while for inflation to return to normal, but soon the benefits of his economic policies would be more obvious.
“We had an extraordinary two years of progress from the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act,” Biden said, rattling off some of the main bills he has signed into law. “But what I’m most excited about is that people are starting to see the impact of these legislative achievements in their own lives. We’re just getting started.”
This has increasingly become part of Biden’s message since Democrats avoided a total wipeout in the midterm elections, though they lost the House and Republicans will be able to filibuster most legislation in the Senate.
“We passed them this year,” Biden said of the aforementioned bills, “but now they’re really going to kick into effect. It’s going to accelerate in the months ahead, and the implementation of these legislative achievements is going to be one of the key parts of the success I believe for the economy.”
Biden continued to tout job creation and signs that inflation may finally be slowing down. Those assurances haven’t inspired confidence in Biden’s economic stewardship in the past, according to polls, with both the labor market and inflation proving resilient. So he has moved to talking about what will happen next as the legislation he has signed is implemented.
“It’s going to take time to get inflation back to normal levels as we keep our job market strong, so we could see setbacks along the way, I don’t doubt that, but thus far we’re in good shape,” he said. “But we’re laser-focused on that.”
Even as Democrats exceeded expectations in the midterm elections, the exit polls showed the public was unhappy with the economy and overall direction of the country. Biden’s approval ratings were low and two-thirds said they did not want him to run for reelection.
Democrats were able to combat the public’s dour mood about the economy with the disapproval of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Republicans then moving to restrict abortion. They also enjoyed some success in framing the election not as a referendum on Biden but as a binary choice also involving former President Donald Trump.
Still, the economy remains a bright warning sign for Biden and the Democrats in 2024. The president hasn’t decided whether to run for a second term, but appears to be leaning in that direction and has a stronger hand in the Democratic primaries as a result of the GOP underperformance in the midterm elections.
“In six short weeks, Americans are going to start to feel the effects of the Inflation Reduction Act,” Biden said. “Come Jan. 1, seniors with diabetes on Medicare are going to pay no more than $35 a month for a prescription of insulin. Some pay as much as $400 a month now.”
He then began to talk about voters who would benefit.
“This matters to folks like Bob, who lives in Long Island and had diabetes for nearly 50 years and he’s had a leg amputated,” Biden continued. “And has issues with eyesight because of the complications of his diabetes.”
After the Inflation Reduction Act kicks in, Biden said, Bob will no longer have to choose between visiting his grandchildren and paying for his insulin.
Over the course of the midterm campaign, Biden regularly argued that the government benefits contained in legislation he signed would lower costs while Republicans cited economists who noted high federal spending was contributing to inflation. Most of his campaign appearances were organized around official White House events advertising specific examples of Biden-approved spending helping certain communities or voting blocs.
Since the midterm elections, Biden has stayed firm on “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” The day after the elections, he was asked what he would do differently given that the exit polls showed so much dissatisfaction even if Democrats held on in some key races.
“Nothing, because they’re just finding out what we’re doing,” he replied. “The more they know about what we’re doing, the more support there is.”
The results of the election will nevertheless make it more difficult for Biden to pass more legislation, with a Republican House majority and at least 49 GOP senators. Trump has already announced he is running to reclaim his old job.
The president was speaking at the White House to a partly virtual labor and business event, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in attendance. Brian Deese, a top economic adviser who is reportedly leaving the administration next year, moderated the subsequent discussion.
“I’ve called together a group of labor leaders and business leaders to discuss progress in building the economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” Biden said.