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'Bidenomics' is everywhere. Here's what it could mean for the election

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Biden and his advisers have fanned out across the country over the last few weeks to herald his economics record. They've got a new slogan for those achievements - Bidenomics. Here's the president last month in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I came into office determined to change the economic direction of this country, to move from trickle-down economics to what everyone on Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, began to call Bidenomics. I didn't come up with the name. I really didn't. I now claim it, but they're the ones that used it first.

SIMON: So not Reaganomics, which was trickle down, but Bidenomics. NPR's Eric McDaniel joins us in our studios. Eric, thanks so much for being with us.

ERIC MCDANIEL, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: It seems like any time anyone from the administration's in front of a microphone, they work in the phrase Bidenomics. What is it?

MCDANIEL: Well, first and foremost, and probably even mostly, Scott, it's a campaign message. Biden's out making the case that the economy is strong and that he's the one to thank for that. Inflation continues to fall. We've emerged from the pandemic. Unemployment is near historic lows. But Bidenomics is also a sort of bumper-sticker way for the administration to talk about all of the president's economic legislation in one. So that's the trillion-dollar Inflation Reduction Act, which invested in climate jobs and American manufacturing. It's also the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which, as you might guess, invests in infrastructure, roads, bridges, internet, and the CHIPS Act, which is about incentivizing domestic semiconductor manufacturing. So rather than tick through all of that, like I just did, it's much quicker and maybe more accessible to say Bidenomics.

SIMON: Any sign it's catching on as a phrase?

MCDANIEL: Well, admittedly, I haven't heard it on TikTok yet, but the administration really is pushing the term. And I actually do think there's some risk here to the president. In a lot of ways, the economy is quite strong. The U.S. has had what might be the world's most robust recovery from COVID, but people tell us they still don't feel great about the economy. And in polls, we've heard that folks tend to trust Republicans more to handle the business of running the economy.

I talked to Simon Rosenberg about all of this. He's a Democratic strategist who's worked for the Democratic National Committee and plenty of other places. He told me he thinks that a lot of that wariness is more about a kind of hangover from COVID than it is about the economy itself.

SIMON ROSENBERG: I think COVID was remarkably disruptive in people's lives. People don't feel necessarily secure that we're on the other side of it. It was a massive disruption to everyday life here for a long time. It was a major event in the life of the country. And I think there's some evidence that people are still feeling weary and tired and worried about things.

MCDANIEL: And look, Rosenberg also told me that he thinks the president has a strong case to make that the economy is good and that it's the president's job to get out on the road and spread the good news to help people end an era of bad feelings.

SIMON: But, Eric, we're still a long ways out from Election Day - plenty of time for things to change. By putting his name on the economy, does President Biden risk being blamed if problems develop closer to the 2024 election?

MCDANIEL: Right, so the president could embrace this Bidenomics label, and anything could happen. There could be a real recession. We got some new jobs numbers. The U.S. economy kept adding jobs but fewer than expected. And the Federal Reserve is probably going to have to raise interest rates again. That's going to make it more expensive to borrow money for houses and cars and could slow hiring. And there's also just straight-up political risk. This label could come to mean something less rosy than it does now in the eyes of the Biden administration.

Republican presidential hopefuls like Tim Scott are already out using the term Bidenomics to attack President Biden, saying that people still think prices are too high on the things they need to buy, and that's Bidenomics. But, you know, like you said, we're still more than a year out from when folks start casting ballots, and we just don't know what the economic news will look like by then. But Bidenomics is the president's bet that things will look pretty good.

SIMON: NPR's Eric McDaniel, thanks so much.

MCDANIEL: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Eric McDaniel
Eric McDaniel edits the NPR Politics Podcast. He joined the program ahead of its 2019 relaunch as a daily podcast.