“Mr Biden, Your Good Economy Won’t Sell Itself” – On Selling the Biden Boom

On Wednesday Feb 16th Greg Sargent of the Washington Post wrote about new polling from Navigator Research that found when voters are exposed to data about how much the economy has improved they become much more positive about the economy itself and importantly for 2022 Joe Biden’s handling of it.  Simon is quoted extensively in the piece. On Friday the 18th Paul Krugman cited this same research and Greg’s terrific piece in a new op-ed column, “Mr. Biden, Your Good Economy Won’t Sell Itself.”  On Saturday Amy Walter of the Cook Report took an indepth look at this data and discussion in an article called "the Empathy Factor."  In the piece she writes:

Democrats like NDN's Simon Rosenberg urge the president to acknowledge the challenges the country has been through over the past couple of years and "to make the grit, resilience, ingenuity, can do spirit of the American people the hero of our story in 2022."

But, Rosenberg also wants to see Democrats selling their successes. "As the incumbent party, Democrats will be judged this fall largely on whether voters think we've done a good job, that things are better. Things are better, and we should spend the next 10 months relentlessly making the case that they are."  

In a slide deck released this week, the Democratic research organization, Navigator, made a similar argument. When voters are presented with the tangible economic gains made during the Biden era (such as "more than 6 million jobs created last year,"), the presentation shows, opinions about the state of the economy improve. 

For some time now NDN has been making the case that the repeated strong performance of the US economy under Democrats, and repeated poor even disastrous performance of the economy under Republicans, was one of the most important least understood stories in American politics today. 

The economic boom we’ve seen in Biden’s first year in office – after yet another Republican recession – affirms this decades long trend.  As you can learn listening and reading Rob Shapiro below, 2021, despite the adversity of COVID, was one of the best years for the US economy in the post war era: 5.7% GDP growth, 6m new jobs, 20% gains in equities and housing, more new business formed than any year in American history, 5m people gained health insurance, huge drops in poverty.  Yes, inflation was higher than anticipated, but with real wages for the bottom 50% of workers (and perhaps all as Krugman suggests) rising, and huge gains in real estate and the stock market, an overwhelming majority of Americans came out ahead in 2021.  Many millions of Americans came out way way ahead.   

In other words, 2021 was, as Rob and others called it, a true Biden Boom. 

The story we’ve been telling for the past few years in our data-filled presentationWith Democrats Things Get Better, is a simple one – when Democrats have been in power, we’ve seen growth, huge gains in wealth and incomes, progress.  With Republicans we’ve seen recessions, people falling behind, American decline.  The contrast is very stark, and from a political perspective, we’ve come to believe that establishing this essential contrast has become perhaps the Democratic Party’s highest political communications priority in the coming months. 

You will find below some resources to dive deeper into this important conversation and political project.  We end with the a few stats we keep returning to which tell the story that needs to be told: 

·      Of the 42m jobs created in America since 1989, when a new age of globalization began, 40m – 95% - have been created under Democratic Presidents. 

·      3 times as many jobs have been created in Biden’s first year in office as were created under the last 3 GOP Presidents combined.  

·      550,000 jobs have been created per month under Joe Biden.  Under Clinton and Obama it was 176,000 per month.  Under the two Bushes and Trump it was 9,600 jobs per month.  9,600!!!!!!  The rate of job growth under Joe Biden has been more than 50 times the rate of growth under the last GOP Presidencies over their 16 years. 

Finally, on inflation, it is a bit hard to understand why, given the GOP’s repeated tanking of the US economy, commentators and reporters would take their economic arguments seriously. We believe there is a strong case that the impact of inflation on the economy and workers is being both economically and politically oversold right now – which is another reason why we think Dems need to be more aggressive about talking about how much better things are, and spending less time reinforcing the central GOP attack line against the President.  

Key Resources

Note to Reporters: Americans Are Better Off Even After Inflation - Rob Shapiro, Washington Monthly - Rob does a deep dive on some new economic data and finds that even after inflation a majority of Americans were better off in 2021. 

Simon’s Interview with Greg Sargent in the Washington Post – An in-depth discussion about the need and opportunity for Democrats to win the economic argument this year.  This article looks at new polling data released this week which suggests Dems can win the economic argument if they lean into it – as NDN has been arguing.  

NDN Interview with Rob Shapiro on the Biden Boom – Catch our discussion with noted economist Rob Shapiro, where Rob reviews his two recent articles in the Washington Monthly on the Biden Boom.  Includes a link to Rob’s highly influential articles. 

Memo: Dems Need To Focus On Winning The Economic Argument – Despite decades of strong economic stewardship, Ds trail Rs on perceptions of who can best manage the economy.  It is our belief that closing that gap, and even getting ahead of Republicans on this vital measure is now the highest political priority for Dems in the coming months. 

Report: Biden Boom Continues, 3 Times As Many Biden Jobs Than Last 3 GOP Presidents Combined - More jobs have been created in Joe Biden's first year than in Presidencies of the two Bushes and Trump combined.  Repeated Dem successes, repeated GOP failures must become better known in our politics. 

NDN's Saliency Index, 4th Edition- COVID, Economy Top Issues, Inflation Secondary For Dems - In the 4th edition of our new Saliency Index, we find the top issues for voters in the Democratic electorate to be COVID, jobs and the economy, health care and climate.  In this analysis we offer a lengthy explanation for why the data here continues to suggest that inflation remains a secondary concern for voters in the Democratic electorate. 

With Democrats Things Get Better (2/11/22) – Catch the latest version of the presentation that launched this conversation for NDN.  It is a data-filled deep dive on what has happened in America since the Cold War ended and a new age of globalization began.  What it shows is that things have repeatedly gotten better under Democrats, with Republicans, not so much.  

Memo: New Warnock Ad and Getting Us Through To The Other Side - In a new memo Simon argues that Democrats need to ground their politics now in COVID and the recovery, and work tirelessly to get their voters to the other side.  A new ad by Senator Warnock is a great example of the kind of strategy we are advocating for.

40m of 42m New Jobs Since 1989 - 95% - Have Come Under Dem Presidents - In some of our recent work we've come across a stat we just can't stop looking at - since 1989, and a new age of globalization began, America has seen 42m new net new jobs created.  40m of those have come under the last 3 Dem Presidents - 95%. 

Ending 2021 on A High Note – America’s Can Do Spirit Is Alive and Well - While 2021 was clearly a challenging year for the US, data now makes clear that despite adversity the American people reached deep, found a higher gear, worked their asses off and helped bring about one of the best economies we've seen in years. 

Press and Pods

You can catch Simon discussing the need for Democrats to lean into their successes in a few recent podcasts and television shows: Deep State RadioPoliticologyThat Trippi Show and Steve Clemons’ The Bottom Line

This big argument has also been featured in articles in the AtlanticBoston GlobeCNN, Daily Beast (here and here), the LA TimesUSA Today and Washington Post.  

Writing in The Daily Beast about our With Dems presentation Mike Tomasky said this

“Simon Rosenberg heads NDN, a liberal think tank and advocacy organization. He has spent years advising Democrats, presidents included, on how to talk about economic matters. Not long ago, he put together a little PowerPoint deck. It is fascinating. You need to know about it. The entire country needs to know about it.

The presentation compares how the economy has performed by various measures under Democratic and Republican administrations, going back to 1989. That means that it fairly compares 16 years of Democratic presidencies (Clinton and Obama) to 16 (almost) years of Republican presidencies (Bush, Bush, and Trump). It uses official government numbers, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and so forth. There’s no cooking of any numbers. It’s just the facts.

And the facts are that it’s not even close. The economy does better—far better—when we have Democratic presidents. In terms of job creation, median income, health care, and yep, even the stock market, the economy does better—the American people do better—under Democratic presidents. By a mile.