DANIEL VAUGHAN: Bidenomics vs MAGAnomics Is A Fight Biden Loses

December 11, 2023

Politico is an excellent site if you want to get whatever the DC consensus is on a given topic. Or, you can get the consensus narrative driving a party, politician, or agency. Everyone thinks they can show their strategy to Politico and get all the "smart people" to agree with it.

That's how we get one of the latest gems from the White House. Politico Playbook reports that the White House is announcing a new grand strategy for its economic message ahead of 2024. The new political jargon the White House is deploying is: "MAGAnomics."

Politico explains, "There's a new word you're going to be hearing a lot of in Washington: 'MAGAnomics.' Back in September, that's what Biden started calling the GOP's policy plans. It seems to have been dropped from the Biden lexicon in favor of pushing 'Bidenomics.' But recently congressional Democrats and party strategists have expressed misgivings about branding the party with that awkward label. After all, if voters hate the economy, why tie Biden closer to it?"

The White House looked around for the last year and thought to its collective self, "Hey! The economy is improving! We should take credit for this." Thus, "Bidenomics" was born. It was the White House trying to take credit for things.

But if you're alive and awake, things don't seem great economically. And no one thinks the economy is in great condition outside the rarified air of upper-crust elites in coastal cities. If you're literally anyone else, you have one complaint: inflation skyrocketed prices, interest rates are awful, and nothing has been fixed.

Bidenomics as a term is a reminder that when inflation arrived, Biden decided to pour more spending fuel on the fire with needless COVID-19 spending and Build Back Better. The only government agency that has tried to control inflation is the Federal Reserve, and they've used the only tool they know: interest rate hikes.

That battle over inflation still rages because the Federal Reserve continues to keep interest rates in the nosebleed section. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was blunt on this point to begin December: "It would be premature to conclude with confidence that we have achieved a sufficiently restrictive stance, or to speculate on when policy might ease ... We are prepared to tighten policy further if it becomes appropriate to do so."

More hikes may be necessary to slay the inflation dragon. Does that sound like victory music to you? Because the only agency fighting inflation doesn't sound like they're taking a bow like the issue is defeated.

Maybe someone in the White House could talk to actual people or read the news instead of their press clippings. Here's a story from NBC News just this weekend: "Why Americans are going hungry despite a strong economy."

That report says that demand for food assistance is climbing to record levels - it's higher now than it was during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, head of Feeding America, told reporters: "The demand is higher now than it ever was during the pandemic ... This is not just one group's issue, it's an American issue. Hunger is an issue in America across every demographic group, and now, growingly, across more and more levels of income."

From June 2022 to June 2023, that organization had given out a staggering 5.3 billion meals to Americans.

It's not just them, either. Government food assistance programs are seeing record requests, straining resources. More people are enrolling for services, and more people are using those programs.

As if on cue, a viral video compared what Kevin McCallister paid for groceries in the 1990 movie "Home Alone," versus the cost now. In the film, young Kevin spends around $20 for food, toiletries, and other things he needed. The video estimated that the same grocery tab for a single kid would run $70, an increase of 250% from that time.

Inflation is a consistent background phenomenon, no doubt. But when it becomes a massive issue that changes how everyone sees a grocery bill in just a few years, people will complain. It's easy to look around and see what the problem is.

And that ultimately brings us back to the "MAGAnomics" versus "Bidenomics." It's an abysmal play by the White House because both point back at the issue. With Bidenomics, everyone is reminded that Biden presided over and not cared much about high inflation prices rocking everyday Americans.

MAGAnomics points to the pre-COVID-19 inflation problem when the economy was humming under Trump. How this is somehow better for the current White House is beyond me. With either talking point, they're doing the same thing: reminding everyone that the economy isn't great.

People can look at a grocery receipt, a gas bill, or whatever they're paying for utilities. They don't have to remember what they paid in 1990 for these things; they have to go back to 2019. Bidenomics versus MAGAnomics asks the same question: are you better off now than you were four years ago?

It's hard for most Americans to agree on that in Biden's favor. That doesn't mean he can't win in 2024. But it does force everyone to think about why Bidenomics has failed and what worked under MAGAnomics.

This conundrum is a complex concept for the geniuses sharing their plans with Politico to grasp. They should visit a local grocery store and ask a random person what they think. It might work better than spending millions on consultants who puff themselves up in the DC press.

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