In his speech to Congress this week, President Joe Biden heartily patted himself on the back for everything good that is happening right now.
He described a country in crisis when he took office and said that “After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for a take off.”
The day after Biden’s speech, the Commerce Department reported GDP growth for the first three months of this year was 6.4%. New COVID cases are on the decline, and vaccines are plentiful.
So, it looks like Biden’s right, doesn’t it?
Except he doesn’t deserve any credit for any of those things.
Take the GDP number. Far from being in a Great Depression-scale crisis, the economy had been rapidly recovering from the government-mandated (and scientifically unjustified) lockdowns – with GDP leaping 33.4% in the third quarter of last year and another 4.3% in the fourth quarter.
When Biden took office, Q1 of this year was nearly a third over, and he didn’t sign his “American Rescue Plan” into law until mid-March, just two weeks before the quarter ended. So, even though checks started rolling out to people, that rescue plan was too late to have a significant impact on overall growth.
As a matter of fact, the GDPNow forecast for Q1 – which is a running estimate of the economy based on available data as they are released – was much higher before Biden signed his rescue plan than where it ended up. (See the chart below.)
The employment picture also continued to brighten this year. But again, no thanks to Biden. In March, the jobless rate dropped to 6%, which has been well ahead of all the “expert” forecasts. Yet it had been running ahead of expectations all through the latter half of last year. (The current unemployment rate is also lower than it was for most of the Obama-Biden administration.)
The only significant impact that Biden’s “rescue” plan is having right now is to hamstring businesses that are desperately trying to find workers.
Here’s how the Associated Press put it recently: “It looks like something to celebrate: small businesses posting ‘Help Wanted’ signs as the economy edges toward normalcy. Yet, instead of snapping up these jobs, many out-of-work Americans are choosing to stay home.”
Why, you might ask, are they staying home? Because Biden’s “rescue” included another round of bonus payments to people on unemployment, making staying home as or more lucrative than trudging to work each day. In South Carolina, for example, the unemployed get $626 in weekly benefits, which works out to more than $15 an hour for a full-time worker. Democrats extended this bonus into September.
This is yet another sign that Biden’s unprecedented attempts to increase the size of government are utterly without merit. The economy is steaming along, businesses are doing well, jobs are plentiful.
That’s why, despite what Biden has repeatedly claimed, plenty of economists left, right, and center objected to the “American Rescue Plan.” As the Cato Institute pointed out, opponents included Bush chief economic advisor, Greg Mankiw; former chief economist at the IMF, Olivier Blanchard; chief economist at KPMG, Constance Hunter, “and the vast majority of business economists.” Even Obama chief economist Jason Furman warned that it risked triggering inflation.
Of course, Biden’s “rescue” plan was just a warmup to his massive “infrastructure” bill – which counts anything and everything as infrastructure – and his “American Family Plan” that would expand the welfare state to unprecedented levels.
How about the progress against COVID-19? Again, Biden deserves no credit for that. The vaccines were developed faster than anyone expected before Biden took office, in large part because of Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. And by the time Trump left office, daily vaccination rates had already topped 1 million.
What has Biden done? He spent a fortune to set up government-run vaccine centers that proved to be a failure. He fed the public’s distrust of vaccines by needlessly suspending the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Daily vaccination rates in the U.S. have been trending downward since April 13, according to the Our World In Data tracking site. April 13 is the day that Biden officials recommending pausing the J&J vaccine – a decision they later reversed.
If Biden had any decency, he’d be thanking Donald Trump for his good fortune, and ours.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board