President Joe Biden will likely present an optimistic picture of the economy during his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, even as experts say many of the wins he may claim will be based upon misrepresentations or distortions of reality.
The commander-in-chief faces a new political reality as the Republican Party narrowly secured control of the House of Representatives following the midterm elections, diminishing his capacity to pass legislation at the same pace as the first two years of his term. As the economy recovers from the lockdown-induced recession, however, Biden has adopted a rosy economic outlook that presents a misleading picture of the nation’s business and consumer climate.
Biden claimed ahead of his speech that the United States has witnessed the “fastest gas price decline in eight years” and annualized headline inflation which has declined for “six months” due to his economic policies. Both assertions ignored the reality that energy costs and overall price level increases were much lower before he assumed control of the Oval Office.
National average gas prices were $3.49 per gallon at the end of January 2023, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, marking a 47% increase from $2.38 per gallon in January 2021. Prices reached heights of $5.01 per gallon in June 2022 before their recent moderation, which occurred as Biden released nearly half of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ahead of the midterm elections even as he asked hostile regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to produce more oil for the United States.
“It’s not fair to blame Biden for the rapid rise, but it’s also not fair to credit him for the decline,” Norbert Michel, vice president and director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, told The Daily Wire. “It’s statistical malfeasance to tout the most rapid decline in eight years while ignoring the largest, most rapid rise in the last decade.”
Despite the recent decreases in headline inflation driven by the lower energy prices, costs in categories such as food and shelter continue to rise. Year-over-year inflation was charted at 6.5% in December 2022, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly five times the 1.4% rate recorded in December 2020.
Biden also claimed that he presided over a “record decrease” in deficit spending. Although he oversaw a decline in the deficit from $3.1 trillion in fiscal year 2020 and $2.8 trillion in fiscal year 2021 to $1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2022, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget, he neglected to mention that the record spending occurred as a result of legislation passed to mitigate fallout from the lockdown-induced recession. The deficit posted last year still significantly exceeds those witnessed in the years before the crisis.
“Claiming credit for a record decrease in deficits when fiscal year 2022 ended with a $1.4 trillion deficit is Orwellian doublethink,” Romina Boccia, director of budget and entitlement policy at the Cato Institute, told The Daily Wire. “The one thing President Biden can legitimately take credit for is how his administration’s policies, such as student debt forgiveness, the American Rescue Plan, and subsidies to industries from energy to semiconductor manufacturing, will steeply increase deficits over the next decade.”
Biden likewise claimed that the economy has seen the “two strongest calendar years of job growth in history” and the “lowest unemployment rate” in more than half a century. The job market has meanwhile languished under historically low labor force participation, which has prompted companies to raise wages and pass increased costs onto consumers, exacerbating inflationary pressures. There are currently two open positions for every one unemployed individual, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.