Joe Biden's economy 100 days in: An inflationary disaster? Or a policy for the people?

In this April 8, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. Biden will mark his 100th day in office on Thursday, April 29.
In this April 8, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. Biden will mark his 100th day in office on Thursday, April 29.

USA TODAY asked opinion contributors to weigh in on President Joe Biden’s economic record during his first 100 days.

Building a bright, prosperous future

President Joe Biden’s leadership on the economy in his first 100 days is setting a template for American economic prosperity for the next 100 years.

That’s not hyperbole. It’s a bold statement, but Biden’s vision for what can be accomplished in the wake of this devastating global pandemic is itself extraordinarily bold. It’s all right there in the slogan: Build Back Better. The precipitous collapse of our economy during the past year has presented us with challenges AND opportunities.

The Biden plan meets those challenges and, just as importantly, takes advantage of those opportunities.

The enormous and vitally needed rescue package passed early on is already bearing fruit in the form of revitalized economic numbers. Figures released last week show the lowest number of Americans filing for unemployment since the pandemic first struck. And the pending infrastructure bill is designed to ensure broad-based prosperity for decades to come.

The Biden plan isn’t just a rescue plan. It’s a domestic economic Marshall Plan that aims to rebuild America’s economic vitality from the ground up. Everything that this president has done in his first 100 days is being done with a focus that extends far into a brighter future.

Donna Brazile is a former chair of the Democratic National Committee. Follow her on Twitter: @donnabrazile

Trump’s economic record hard to beat

The Trump economy saw an enormous rise in the incomes of working- and middle-class people, and that marked a sharp break from business as usual. As a Bloomberg article noted: “In 2016, real median household income was $62,898, just $257 above its level in 1999. Over the next three years it grew almost $6,000, to $68,703.” Jon Miltimore at the Foundation for Economic Education added: “Indeed, median household incomes increased from $64,300 to $68,700 in 2018 alone — an increase of $4,400. To put it another way, U.S. incomes increased more in 2018 than the previous 20 years combined.” Will President Joe Biden match that record?

Time will tell, but his hasty efforts to undo much of former President Donald Trump’s economic policy suggest that he intends to return to the approach of the three previous administrations. That approach was good for Silicon Valley and Wall Street, but devastating for the American working and middle class. A return to the policies of previous decades is likely to produce the results of previous decades: Wage stagnation or worse.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter: @instapundit

Latinos are worth investing in

President Joe Biden’s economic policies are benefiting most Americans, especially the Latino community. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Latino unemployment is trending downward, falling from 9.3% in December (former President Donald Trump’s last full month in office) to 7.9% in March.

The American Rescue Plan, hailed by Latino advocacy groups for its inclusivity, provides everything from assistance for Latino farmers, to relief for Puerto Rico. This program represents a tremendous infusion of capital into Latino communities — and will be essential in helping the country recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To Biden’s credit, his administration recognizes that Latinos will play an important role in driving our future economy. The president has taken welcome steps to help close the country’s racial wealth gap.

His immigration policies, shaping up as a break from those of his predecessor, could potentially help the U.S. reap the economic benefits of immigration. It’s no wonder that a majority of the Latino community supports Biden’s efforts. An April Pew Research study found that 74% of Latinos approve of his job performance, and 78% approve of his coronavirus economic aid package. see graphic under Bien hecho, well done, Mr. President.

Raul Reyes is a New York attorney. Follow him on Twitter: @RaulAReyes

Dawn of a comeback

To borrow from scripture: President Joe Biden is a man for “such a time as this.” His first 100 days have been eventful to say the least and it looks like the hard work is paying off. The economy is slowly rebounding, states are starting to reopen restaurants and bars. People are looking forward to connecting and traveling again.

Biden bet his early presidency on getting the vaccines moving into the states and into Americans’ arms (200 million shots to date). He understood that the American economy is tied to our health and wellness. His bet has paid off, with the exception of his capital gains tax increase proposal that sent Wall Street spiraling down on last week, employment is back up, jobless claims are coming down, and businesses are hiring again. Biden’s first 100 days have taken American from the brink of catastrophe to the dawn of a comeback.

Sophia A. Nelson is an adjunct professor at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @IAmSophiaNelson

Republican lawmakers out of touch

Weeks before the election, President Donald J. Trump declared, “we will go into a depression” if Joe Biden won. As usual, the alarmist rhetoric by Trump and the Republicans was comically wrong.

One hundred days in and the economy is growing at its fastest pace since 1984 as we emerge from the COVID winter. Unemployment claims have hit a pandemic low. Hiring is surging. The S&P has hit 21 records since Biden took office, the most in a president’s first 100 days since Kennedy.

Most importantly, the American people are responding. Biden’s approval ratings remain strong and even Republican voters support his stimulus plan. It just goes to show that the more Republicans in Washington double-down on obstructing Biden’s agenda, the more out-of-touch they look to everyone else.

Kurt Bardella is a member of the Korean Americans for Political Action (KAPA) Advisory Board. Follow him on Twitter: @KurtBardella

The king of unemployment

America is emerging from our pandemic year of discontent, and the Biden administration is facing an economy that has been fundamentally re-shaped. Small businesses have been massacred by sustained lockdowns, while many of the county’s biggest corporations have become even wealthier.

The full contours of the post-pandemic economy will likely take years to fully comprehend. But in the short term, the Biden administration is threatening robust recovery.

First, there are the massive infusions of cash passed by congressional Democrats with White House support; $1.9 trillion in March, and a contemplated $4 trillion package, are all tempting a serious inflation crisis. Asset prices and commodities are rapidly rising. The Federal Reserve reassures us, suggesting that the sea of cash will sort itself once more Americans re-enter the workforce and temporary supply chain constrains are resolved.

But in spite of high unemployment, businesses are struggling to hire — in part because of the Biden-backed unemployment extensions are so generous that some recipients are paid more to stay at home than they are to work. Biden has also refused to urge teachers to fully return to school, freeing up adults to re-enter the workforce. An economy cannot sustain on monetized debt and enhanced unemployment alone, but Biden seems determined to try.

Rachel Bovard is the senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute. Follow her on Twitter: @RachelBovard

And end to elitist economics

President Biden seems to be thankfully, wholeheartedly rejecting corporate wealth-first economics of the last forty years — the idea that, in good times and in bad, the best way to support the economy and all of us within it was to do whatever was best for big corporations and the super-rich. Fifty years of data from 18 countries shows that tax cuts for the rich only benefit the rich, increasing inequality.

But the theory of corporate wealth-first economics remained so entrenched we started to assume it was fact. Enter Joe Biden. As president, Biden is implementing people-first economics. His first relief bill included individual stimulus relief, unemployment benefits extensions, rent relief, school funding and more.

And now he’s trying to pass more spending so Americans can get jobs repairing bridges and roads or finally get paid decent wages for the work they’re already doing, especially care work. Biden has also promised to continue pressing to end the subminimum wage and pass a full fair $15 wage gradually nationwide.

Biden’s economic model helps the economy by helping working people, ensuring that work actually pays a living wage, reducing poverty and putting more spending money in folks’ pockets. With his vision, Biden isn’t just fixing this economic crisis, he’s fixing the broken ideas and elitism of our economy for decades.

Sally Kohn is a progressive media strategist and the author of “The Opposite Of Hate: A Field Guide To Repairing Our Humanity.” Follow her on Twitter: @SallyKohn

An unequal, unfulfilled recovery

The economy is rebounding, but only selectively. The groups hit hardest — women and people of color — lag behind. Women’s progress in the workplace has been turned back by more than three decades, with participation in the labor force at the lowest point since 1988. Since February 2020, women have lost more than 4.6 million net jobs, and nearly 2 million more have dropped out of the workforce altogether, faced with the impossible juggle of work, child care, and home schooling.

President Joe Biden walks off after speaking about COVID-19 vaccinations at the White House on April 21, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden walks off after speaking about COVID-19 vaccinations at the White House on April 21, 2021, in Washington.

The Biden administration has taken some emergency measures for families, like a temporary increase in the child-tax credit and stimulus support for daycare. But President Joe Biden has yet to pass the measures he campaigned on, including paid parental leave, federal child care support and expanding the child tax credit. Will he and Congress ultimately get this right? The livelihood, and sanity, of millions is on the line.

Joanne Lipman is the Distinguished Journalism Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and author of “That’s What She Said.” Follow her on Twitter: @joannelipman

Every honeymoon ends

I always thought Joe Biden’s presidency would end up looking a bit like LBJ’s — I just didn’t know if it would like the beginning of Johnson’s presidency or the end. The beginning was the biggest deal since the New Deal: The Great Society, the War on Poverty, the Civil Rights Act.

The end was a hot mess: riots, a civil war in his own party, a humiliating showing in the New Hampshire primary that caused him to drop out of the race (even though he actually won, albeit too narrowly). In Biden’s first 100 days, he’s acted like his model was never Johnson at all, but FDR. Some historians told him he should go for a new New Deal, and go for it he has.

But I still think both LBJ scenarios are more likely. The first 100 days have looked a lot like Johnson’s honeymoon. He’s managed to keep his party’s base in line so far, thanks in part because he’s doing more than they’d hoped on the spending front.

But that can’t last — and not just because we can’t afford much more spending. His appeasement of his base isn’t placating it, it’s fueling their ambitions for more while solidifying opposition on his right. The honeymoon will end — because they always do.

Jonah Goldberg is editor in chief of The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter: @JonahDispatch

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden’s first 100 days: How does the economy compare to Trump?

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