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The Biden Administration has reason to celebrate after the latest Consumer Price Index in June revealed an economy that is bouncing back from the brink of the pandemic. The Black Wall Street Times spoke with the deputy director of the White House National Economic Council to learn more about the effects of what Biden has called “Bidenomics.”
Inflation lowered to 3% in June from a 40-year high of over 9% just 12 months ago, signaling a swift easing of economic pressures that has forced many families to struggle to make ends meet.
Despite warnings from bank executives that a recession was looming, economic indicators show a swift rebound. Just months ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell hinted that there would need to be a rise in unemployment to get inflation under control. Yet the exact opposite has materialized: unemployment has remained low, and Pres. Biden has overseen the lowest Black unemployment rate on record.
“That’s Bidenomics in action,” Biden said in a press release on Wednesday. “Our progress creating jobs while lowering costs for families is no accident, and I will continue to fight for lower costs for families every day.
In an interview with The Black Wall Street Times, National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti spoke on the economic indicators that point to a healthy economy, his response to criticism from the right, and Biden’s efforts to apply racial equity to the economic sector.
“We’ve made incredible progress”: White House touts Bidenomics
When asked about the specific economic indicators that show the economy is going in the right direction, Deputy Director Ramamurti touted the 13 million jobs Biden created since taking office, which he says is more growth in a two-year period than any previous four-year term.
Despite persistent inflation, “your typical wage earner has higher take home pay” than when the pandemic began, Ramamurti said. The number of small businesses forming has also risen, with 10.5 million applications filed in the past two years.
“The highest we’ve seen since collecting data,” he added.
Ultimately, as Biden prepares for the 2024 presidential election, he wants Americans to know jobs, wages and small businesses are all on the rise under a set of policies and actions that he refers to as “Bidenomics.”
It stands in contrast to the decades-long belief in a concept popularized as “Reaganomics,” when Republican Pres. Ronald Reagan implemented policies in the 80s that cut social spending while giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations with the idea that the benefits would trickle down to people in lower income brackets.
Critics say not so fast on Bidenomics
Not everyone shares the White House’s enthusiasm, however. For months, Republicans from state houses to the U.S. Capitol have criticized Biden for high gas and grocery prices amid the highest levels of inflation in decades, caused by factors, Biden says, that include the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and supply chain disruptions.
Republicans accuse Biden of making inflation worse with his record levels of social spending, most notably the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.
“Bidenomics continues to cost all Americans” because of higher prices since he took office, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
While Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wants voters to focus on the overall inflation rates since Biden took office, the White House prefers voters instead look at the 12-month change in inflation.
Energy bills cut deep for Black Americans
Meanwhile, a 2022 report from Lending Tree found that roughly 40% of Black households reported being unable to pay at least part of their utility bill from 2021 to 2022 amid high inflation.
“Inflation has hit a lot of people really hard. It’s hit people in some of the most essential expenses in life. Things that people can’t avoid paying for,” Lending Tree Chief Credit Analyst Matt Schulz told The Black Wall Street Times in November.
When asked for his response to these criticisms of Bidenomics, Deputy Director Ramamurti pointed to the drop in gas prices.
“Gas prices are down substantially from where they were a year ago, well over a gallon down nationally,” Ramamurti said. He also stressed that Biden created energy tax credits within the Inflation Reduction Act that residents can utilize to make their homes more energy efficient and switch to renewable energy.
Republicans have criticized Biden for not doing more to expand domestic energy production, but the president has taken action by unleashing oil reserves to lower gas prices, a fact not celebrated by environmental advocates worried about the increasing threat of climate change.
“While there’s still more work to do, we have seen an incredible amount of progress that a lot of folks didn’t predict. And our goal is to keep building on that progress,” Ramamurti told The Black Wall Street Times.
Expanding racial equity in the economy
When it comes to racial equity, Biden vowed to implement it across all aspects of his administration, including the economy. While not directly tied to national economic policy, the issue of reparations has gained widespread momentum as some states and cities have begun to implement or study some form of financial restitution.
While Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall recently dismissed the historic Tulsa Race Massacre public nuisance lawsuit on Friday, attorneys with the Justice for Greenwood legal team have announced plans to appeal the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
For his part, Ramamurti emphasized the fact that in past administrations, efforts to recover a healthy economy have always led to Black workers being left behind.
“The president and vice president were committed to changing that this time,” Ramamurti said. “We’ve seen that the Black unemployment rate has hit the lowest mark it has ever reached in the history of this country,” and the unemployment racial gap “has narrowed to the smallest it’s been in history.”