Will Democrats break from Biden on economy before midterms?

Politics

(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden is trotting out numbers this week he argues shows the U.S. economy is in good shape, despite record inflation hitting Americans everywhere from the gas pump to grocery stores.

Biden Wednesday unveiled the White House’s expectation the federal deficit will drop for the first time since President Barack Obama was in office.

Biden touted the $26 billion that will come off the $23.9 trillion federal deficit as something that will help curb the 40-year high inflation hitting Americans. He will also try to play to the strength of the job market in a new report expected Friday.

“The bottom line is the deficit went up every year under my predecessor before the pandemic and during the pandemic. It has gone down both years since I’ve been here,” Biden said. “Why is it important? Because bringing down the deficit is one way to ease inflationary pressures.”

Critics, especially Republican lawmakers, have been harsh on Biden’s handling of the economy since he took office, pointing to rising inflation and rocketing gas prices as evidence the U.S. economy is not in good shape.

Biden’s Wednesday news conference was perceived by some as him trying to shake criticism as the country approaches crucial midterm elections, which will determine control of the House and Senate.

Biden feels Republicans and Democratic voters and members of his own party are underselling what he has done for the economy.

“I think the White House and Democrats are in a really tough position with this,” said Politico’s national political correspondent Meredith McGraw as a guest on Thursdays “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” “President Biden is frustrated that he is not getting enough credit when it comes to the economy for numbers like jobs but still, that doesn’t affect how voters see him and that’s across the board.”

McGraw said Democrats currently campaigning in midterm elections are “distancing” themselves from Biden on the issue of the economy because of polling numbers that show most Americans view Biden unfavorably when it comes to economic issues.

Dr. Lauren Wright, an associate research scholar and lecturer on politics at Princeton University, said it will be hard for Democrats to distance themselves from Biden on the economy, given that the White House is usually where blame is pointed when things are going poorly.

“At this very late stage, admittedly they are trying to change the narrative so that they’re emphasizing what they believe to be very positive aspects of the economy and de-emphasize inflation,” McGraw said. “The problem with that is that is does not match up with how people feel.”

McGraw said it might be hard for Democrats to change the economic narrative at this point as interest rates and inflation continue to rise, directly impacting American consumers.

Whether or not Democrats fully break from Biden, they’re campaigning in a “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” situation, Wright said. In moderate states, it could be bad for someone campaigning to be seen alongside Biden; in fact, there have already been situations where candidates have chosen not to appear with the president.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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