© Reuters. US President Joe Biden meets with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, May 31, 2022. REUTERS/Lea Millis
Written by Trevor Honeycutt and Howard Schneider
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden plans to launch a media campaign to lift declining opinion polls ahead of November’s congressional elections and to bolster his administration of America’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and his efforts to cool soaring inflation.
A White House official said Biden’s meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to discuss inflation on Tuesday was the first event on a multi-week agenda.
During June, the official said, the White House plans to highlight the historic level of job creation and the low unemployment rate seen in Biden’s first 17 months in office, his pledge to respect the independence of the Fed, and those to come. pockets of working families.
Biden will talk about job numbers on Friday, and cabinet members including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and economic advisers Jared Bernstein and Heather Bush are planning dozens of TV ads and other in-person events.
The prospects for Biden’s Democratic Party to maintain control of Congress in the November 8 elections may depend on how well he frames a positive economic narrative around increasingly bleak sentiment.
On the surface, working families are doing well.
Unemployment resembles the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s, wages are rising for many low-skill jobs, and bank accounts are still, on average, full of cash from coronavirus relief programs. Recent Federal Reserve reports and polls have indicated that households are, on average, in a strong financial position.
But confidence waned, and a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll put the economy at the top of respondents’ list of concerns. Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 36%, the lowest of his presidency.
Inflation reached its highest level in 40 years, lasted longer than policymakers expected when it first rose last year, and prompted the Federal Reserve in recent months to launch what may be its fastest effort to tighten initial monetary policy.
The opposition Republican Party, mired in a civil war over the lies of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election, has united to Biden’s ways on inflation.
“What Democrats need to do is resist the urge to explain the cause of inflation and move forward with the fact that that’s what we’re going to do,” said Rod MacLeod, Arizona Democratic policy advisor. Is that this can turn you into one of the big parties.
Reactions to a comment Biden wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday about his anti-inflation plans underscored the scale of the challenge he faces.
By midday, the vast majority of the more than 1,000 comments in one of the country’s few national newspapers had rejected Biden’s proposed plans for prescription drug pricing and clean tax credits, while instead calling for lower taxes and more oil exploration and Biden’s ideas rather than spurious fiction.
Taming inflation requires not only smart decisions from the central bank, but also a lot of luck. Global prices are being shaken by events such as the Ukraine war and the coronavirus pandemic, and whether another increase could curb Chinese production.
The best-case scenario for Biden at home is that the Fed’s monetary tightening slows the economy enough to cool spending and companies cut job openings without actually cutting jobs.
If the Fed finds inflation more stubborn, the alternative is for the central bank to raise interest rates so high that the economy slides into recession with a sharp rise in unemployment. September is expected to be a pivotal month, as the Fed is likely to assess and decide whether to become more aggressive.