Biden Pretends to Defend His Economic Record

Biden Pretends to Defend His Economic Record
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy at an International Union of Operating Engineers Local 77 union training facility in Accokeek, Md., on April 19, 2023. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Jeffrey A. Tucker
The Wall Street Journal, as if participating in some kind of inside joke, published an opinion piece ostensibly by President Joe Biden, in defense of his economic record. It’s a dark comedy. Actually, it's worse.

It seems to symbolize that, to this administration, there's no longer truth and no longer lies. It’s all just propaganda. They believe that they can invent their own reality in service of power and don't care that absolutely no one believes it.

The comments alone are telling. There are about 1,500 so far. Reading through them is hilarious, sort of like reading the reactions to a Bud Light Twitter ad. I couldn't find even one that backed the claims of the article.

The dominant theory of the commentators is that the piece was written by ChatGPT. That’s entirely believable. I’m sure I could generate something as good or better in fewer than 10 seconds. I won't give you a sample so as not to waste your time.

The center of the claim is that labor markets are healthy. That’s the best talking point they have. And that’s telling because the ratio of population to people with jobs is right now at a 40-year low. And that pretty well explains the low unemployment numbers, a piece of data that's utterly meaningless and completely deprecated. It only calculates the people on the market right now for jobs. Dropouts don’t count.

Imagine bragging about a nation of dropouts!

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

The problem is particularly acute among women. They left the labor market in large numbers during lockdowns and vaccine mandates and haven't come back nearly at the same levels as before. This is a generational change in labor participation. The feminine power movement of the 1970s—the belief that you can have it all—isn't entirely dead but getting there. The Biden administration is covering that up by redefining what a woman is.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

It’s true that there are more jobs now than ever, even shortages in many areas, but the number of people taking second and third jobs just to pay the bills has soared like nothing we’ve ever seen.

You know this from your own experience. Everyone has a side gig. Anything to get money in the door. Meanwhile, weekly earnings from workers are lower now than before the lockdowns, which is to say that workers, wages, and salaries have been utterly creamed over the past few years.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

As for the hard number of people employed, we're barely above the pre-lockdown levels, according to the household survey, for a net job “creation” of 2 million jobs (not 13 million as Biden claims) and much worse jobs than existed before. Lockdowns represented a major downshift in commercial health and job vibrancy. Biden has presided over the mess, even if the catastrophic decision by then-President Donald Trump to lock down kicked off its beginnings.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

It takes some real chutzpah to brag about such a thing. The middle class is being destroyed, demotivated, and impoverished while this administration takes to the op-ed page to brag about it all and promise better times ahead. As always, Orwell comes to mind.

There's a larger problem of a general decline in growth and prosperity, well documented by David Stockman. From his telling, we're sinking into a long-term second Great Depression, and Washington is doing nothing about it.
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
There's an even larger problem in the United States today having to do with a general demoralization that's profoundly affecting worker happiness and prospects. I do like the phrase of Charles Hugh Smith: social defeat.

It seems that social defeat is a scientific concept. It describes what happens to male rodents when you introduce into the cage a much larger and meaner rodent. The males in the cage shrink back, stop fighting for food, stop playing, stop their routines, and grow increasingly emancipated and weak.

In Smith’s view, this applies to humans as well. When you introduce into the human population a large version of themselves with more power, more wealth, and more access, something capable of taking their money, productivity, and liberty, you gradually sap the energies of the general population. Everyone feels vaguely defeated and unable to get ahead of the game. They give up, turning to substance abuse, ill health, and meaninglessness. They fade into nothingness.

This strikes me as a perfectly accurate description of so many Americans today. We have been made aware of a beast out there that's bigger and more powerful than all of us. It's capable of shutting our churches, locking us in our homes, wrecking our businesses, smashing our schools, and filling us with propaganda so absurd that no one in history has ever believed it (e.g., the definition of male and female is wholly malleable). Under such conditions, the vitality of the population is drained away.

When the hegemonic beast acts in an arbitrary way, disregards all laws and norms, and instead only favors that which is deferential and obsequious, the problems intensify. And that's precisely what we see today in the United States. The Justice Department's prosecution of Trump is completely without precedent and wholly unjustified by any normal standard and yet, it goes ahead anyway.

I’ve called these conditions anarcho-tyranny: the exercise of totalitarian power in a lawless context. You never know for sure when or how it will strike. One day, it's Trump, and the next day, it's you or me or anyone. Any enemy of the state is vulnerable. And nor does it take much to be an enemy of the state these days. It could just be expressing doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine on social media or making fun of Pride Month or really anything. You can be targeted and taken down, brutally and without legal recourse.

If we were going to summarize Biden’s op-ed, it could be thusly: the worst is likely over. That’s not exactly a comforting message, and it's not likely true either.

Judging by the comment section of the piece, there's hardly anyone alive who believes this nonsense from the White House anymore. But what do they care? They have the power, and they have every intention of keeping it—through any means, fair or foul.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.