TV Says You’re Wrong, Joe Biden’s Economy Is Really Wonderful

December 15th, 2023 11:50 AM

As polls show Joe Biden’s re-election is in peril because of the public’s negative opinion of how he’s handled the economy, TV viewers woke up Friday morning to a round of happy talk telling them that, despite what they might think, the economy is really quite spectacular.

“The economy is in solid shape. Job growth is steady and inflation is cooling,” ABC’s Elizabeth Schulze exclaimed on Good Morning America. Over on Today, NBC’s Tom Costello cheered that travel will be cheaper this Christmas: “Gas prices now below $3 a gallon in more than 20 states, so if you are planning to hit the road for the holidays, you’ll have company.”

Earlier this week, NBC’s Christine Romans declared that Americans who told pollsters that the economy is bad are just wrong. “So people say the economy, you know, sucks,” Romans argued on Wednesday’s Today. “But it really — it doesn’t....I call it the sourpuss economy....You know, people just don’t believe it.”

A new Wall Street Journal poll last week found voters flocking to Donald Trump due to their deep dissatisfaction with Biden’s handling of the economy. As the Journal’s Aaron Zitner and Alex Leary summarized:

Only 23% of voters say Biden’s policies have helped them personally, while 53% say they have been hurt by the president’s agenda.... “Bidenomics,” the president’s signature economic platform, is viewed favorably by less than 30% of voters and unfavorably by more than half....Two-thirds of voters rate the economy as poor or not good, and two-thirds say the economy has gotten worse in the past two years, during Biden’s time in office.

And as reported by the New York Post just yesterday, former Obama strategist David Axelrod called the recent polling “very, very dark” news for Biden’s re-election prospects.

So this morning, ABC wanted to make sure viewers knew that the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high yesterday, that the average 401(k) balance had increased by almost $13,000 in 2023, and that the monthly mortgage cost associated with a new home was down $230 dollars vs. two months ago.

Of course, overall housing prices are up a shocking 20 percent since Biden took office, according to Redfin. Inflation has driven up household expenses by more than $700 a month since 2012, and last year’s massive stock market decline deducted more than $26,000 from the typical 401(k), so even after this year’s increase, the average worker is still way behind.

And NBC’s celebration that gas prices are below $3/gallon in more than 20 states (which means they're above $3/gallon in most states) ignores the fact that gas prices were significantly cheaper (a national average of $2.379/gallon) when Biden took office on January 20, 2021.

But Biden’s re-election campaign is in trouble, so expect his friends in the media will likely keep zeroing in on positive economic anecdotes to help shore up his position as we head into 2024.

Here’s a bit more of the networks’ recent economic cheerleading (click expand) to read the full transcripts:

# ABC’s Good Morning America
December 15, 2023

Co-host MICHAEL STRAHAN: Now to the economy. Stocks closed at another record Thursday while consumer spending remains strong. Let’s go to Elizabeth Schulze on Wall Street for us. Good morning, Elizabeth.
Correspondent ELIZABETH SCHULZE: Good morning, Michael. Christmas is coming early here on Wall Street, with the stock market hitting those new records. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high Thursday for the second day in a row, adding another 158 points. And when you take a step back and look at the Dow’s performance so far this year, it’s gained 12%. To put that into a dollar amount, for the typical American’s 401(k) that stayed invested in stocks this year, your balance is up about $13,000.

Big picture, investors are bullish because the economy is in solid shape. Job growth is steady and inflation is cooling, which is why the Federal Reserve now forecasts it could cut interest rates three times next year. In anticipation of that, mortgage rates have just dropped below 7% for the first time since August, so if you’re taking out a $400,000 mortgage at today’s rates, your monthly payment at $2,648 is $230 cheaper than two months ago when those rates were near 8%. Now, still not quite at the two or three percent level that a lot of home buyers locked in, but it is a sliver of relief in an incredibly challenging market. Deborah?

Fill-in co-host DEBORAH ROBERTS:  Encouraging news, Elizabeth Schulze. Thank you.

# NBC’s Today
December 15, 2023

Correspondent TOM COSTELLO: One reason so many of us are traveling this year: it cost less.

KATY NASTRO, Travel Expert: Airfare is down 12% from where we saw it last year. As well, you know, gas prices are down quite considerably from 2022.

COSTELLO: Gas prices now below $3 a gallon in more than 20 states, so if you are planning to hit the road for the holidays, you’ll have company....

# NBC’s Today
December 13, 2023

Co-host HODA KOTB: We had all good numbers, things to be excited about, but if you do a poll of what people think, they do not think the economy is going well.

Correspondent CHRISTINE ROMANS: Isn’t that interesting?

KOTB: What is that saying?

ROMANS: So people say the economy, you know, sucks. (Sorry, Mom, but that’s what they say.) But it really — it doesn’t. So there’s this disconnect and I think it’s something that’s going to be important going into an election year as well. Because I call it the sourpuss economy. I say, “GDP is good,” people go (grimaces). You know, people just don’t believe it. They don’t believe it.