Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump may be vying for the same undecided voters, but after their Party’s conventions over the past two weeks, it’s clear they’re offering sharply different ideas for America’s economic future.
Spurred on by the left-wing of his party, Biden is proposing to invest the federal government with sweeping new powers to tax, regulate, and spend its way to his version of a Green New Deal.
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Trump is talking about doing exactly the opposite, devolving power to businesses and workers through lower taxes, less regulation and a lighter touch from the federal government.
Both Biden and the president are promising that their plans will produce new jobs and economic recovery, but voters don’t need to take a leap of faith. They can simply look at the two men’s separate track records.
It’s true that the Obama-Biden administration inherited an economic mess, but they also squandered the opportunity to fix it.
It’s simple: Shifting economic power to the government will slow growth and stall the recovery. Unleashing private businesses will pull more people off the sidelines and accelerate the country’s comeback.
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Biden likes to tout his role in leading America out of the Great Recession in 2009, but his case is only half-baked. The former vice president’s main selling point is that the post-recession recovery was the longest on record. But what really matters to people out of work is the strength of the recovery—how quickly they get back on the job and see their wages rise. By that measure, the Obama-Biden recovery was a severe disappointment.
In 2009, unemployment peaked at 9.9% and it didn’t fall back to pre-recession levels until 2017, leaving many workers on the sidelines for months, and in some cases years. And with so many workers competing for the few jobs available, wage growth remained weak for most of that period.
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Yes, the recovery dragged forward, but so slowly that many job seekers simply gave up hope, sending the percentage of Americans in the labor force to historic lows.
It’s true that the Obama-Biden administration inherited an economic mess, but they also squandered the opportunity to fix it. Instead of creating incentives to get people back to work, they passed an ineffectual $800 billion dollar “stimulus,” kept people on the sidelines with 99 weeks of unemployment, and then pushed a massive reinvention of the healthcare sector that increased regulation and uncertainty for employers large and small.
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Many of these same growth-killing policies have found their way into Biden’s current economic proposals to spend trillions on green energy investments, increase regulation, and push the government even deeper into the health care sector.
President Trump has a more straightforward and stronger case to make on the economy.
In his first two years in office, he prioritized cutting taxes and reducing regulations on businesses. The result was that employers began competing for workers as available jobs outstripped the number of unemployed, pushing wage growth back up, especially for workers at the lower end of the pay scale.
Unemployment fell to historic lows and produced gains across the spectrum—for women, men, minorities, and all workers of all different education levels.
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The longest recovery was supposed to run out of steam under Trump. Instead, it got stronger.
The coronavirus shutdowns threw all of this into reverse, though record rehiring over the past three months suggests the pre-pandemic economy retained much of its momentum.
Biden is hoping the American people will blame President Trump for our economic chaos, but he’s also said he’s willing to return to the very shutdowns that caused all the damage.
Forgive voters if they don’t want to let him have it both ways.
Americans may ding President Trump for the job loss and economic chaos we’ve seen this year. But they’re more likely to look at the economic success of his first three years in office as evidence that he can bring the economy back to life.
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