Froma Harrop commentary: The Biden economy happens to be glorious
Summary: As Bloomberg summed it up, "America's economy improved more in Joe Biden's first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years."
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takes office, there'll be a "depression the likes of which you've never seen,"
warned a month before he lost the 2020 presidential election. It didn't happen.
You know that, right?
Also, your 401(k) surely did not "go to hell," as the previous guy predicted. On the contrary, stocks in the S&P 500 are up 26% as the first year of the Biden presidency is about to end.
How good is that? "U.S. financial markets are outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century" is how Bloomberg News put it.
The U.S. gross domestic product is expected to have grown an extraordinary 5.6% this year, according to economists. And that's after adjusting for inflation.
The unemployment rate is down to 4.2%. Retail sales in the recent Christmas shopping season rose 8% from the same period last year — the biggest gain in 17 years.
As Bloomberg summed it up, "America's economy improved more in Joe Biden's first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years."
And so how do we explain Biden's lackluster approval ratings, weirdly depressed by discontent on how he's managing the economy? The reasons include distorted media coverage of the economy, a Republican opposition that doesn't want to give Democrats credit, and Democrats who don't want to give themselves credit (and for wholly neurotic reasons).
Now, as always, there are economic concerns. Inflation has been cutting into the good news of fattening paychecks for American workers. However, the bubbly retail numbers point to consumers with the means to spend and happy to do it. That consumer credit grew a record 27% in Biden's first year reflects a public confidence about the future.
The supply chain blockages seem to be easing, as witnessed in the fake news of bare store shelves this shopping season. The difficulty in getting parts and products shipped from Asia has raised interest in bringing manufacturing back into this country, and that is a good thing.
The biggest driver of inflation, oil prices, could very well be headed down. "Much needed relief for tight markets is on the way," according to the International Energy Agency. The simple reason is rising oil production. Helping matters was Biden's planned release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic reserves, with similar steps being taken in other countries.
Why Democrats don't shout hosannas for this basically strong economy has long been a mystery. One explanation is that some of the loudest voices in the party, mainly on the left, engage in a culture of complaint. The lefties obsess angrily on what isn't being done for the poor and ignore what is.
They've been hollering at West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin for blocking passage of the current Build Back Better plan, even though it is they who screwed it up. All hope is not lost, though. Democrats can trim their overweight wish list, thus avoiding such cheesy tricks as financing the child tax credit for just one year. Manchin does have a point.
The programs most worth saving are universal preschool, strengthening the Affordable Care Act and fighting climate change. A plan costing $1.8. trillion — a number Manchin has reportedly said he would consider — would still be bold under any previous definition of the word.
Stock market gains do benefit the better-off, but lots of average people have some skin in the game. Sweden has more billionaires per capita than we do while maintaining a dream of a social safety net.
There's nothing wrong with prosperity. "Happy Days Are Here Again" was the campaign song for Franklin D. Roosevelt — just before he launched the New Deal.