WASHINGTON — Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, often hits out at President Joe Biden for high inflation and a looming recession — a standard GOP argument ahead of the November election.
But inflation is even worse in major cities in Texas than in the country as a whole. Government figures show inflation is 10.2% in the Houston area and 9.4% around Dallas, higher than the last national average of 8.5%.
Abbott and other GOP leaders make a paradoxical argument that the US economy has crashed into a recession, but Republican-led parts of the country are still booming. These officials blame Biden’s policies for sky-high gas and food prices, while taking credit for the job gains those same policies helped spur.
The Governor of Texas tweeted on July 28: “The US economy is in recession under Biden. Meanwhile, Texas was No. 1 in the nation for job growth in June and more Texans have jobs today than ever before in our state’s history.
The Associated Press found a familiar pattern in 15 Republican-led states in which governors on Twitter would praise job growth in their states, while senators would simultaneously say the national economy as a whole together was falling apart. These seemingly contradictory claims have also been repeated in public remarks.
GOP leaders say state policies such as low tax rates and keeping businesses open during the pandemic have helped boost hiring and investment. But their claims tend to ignore how job growth was also spurred by a historic injection of federal money that began in March 2020 and continued under Biden with the 1999 coronavirus relief package. $9 trillion last year.
Biden and his fellow Democrats have acknowledged the pain caused by inflation that hit a 40-year high this summer. But the president pointed out that the United States had avoided a recession due to the low unemployment rate of 3.5%. He argues that global factors such as the pandemic, fragile supply chains and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have sent prices soaring – and that he is meeting the public’s needs with the economic package and climate change enacted on Tuesday.
“Too often, we hand the biggest microphone to critics and cynics who delight in declaring failure while those determined to make real progress do the hard work of governing,” Biden said in a snippet. eye to the GOP.
Multiple polls show voters have a gut feeling about the economy and most people blame the president. The researchers said there wasn’t much academic analysis to show why many voters seemed willing to blame inflation on White House policies and give state houses a pass, because inflation had been low for the past few decades and less of a factor in elections than jobs.
Andrew Reeves, a political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said most voters likely judge local and national economies by different standards. When it comes to state and local officials, voters form opinions through what they observe in their daily lives. But they often measure the national economy through hard numbers and political ideologies.
“The ‘national economy’ is this nebulous thing that none of us really know about,” Reeves said. “It’s an abstract concept. We are perhaps more willing to let our partisanship cloud our view of what is happening nationally. Joe Biden is well into his tenure, so the honeymoon is over and he owns this economy – whether his politicians are directly responsible for it or not.
Republican governors such as Ron DeSantis of Florida and Brian Kemp of Georgia are largely unscathed by inflation, even though consumer prices are well above the national average in both states. Inflation is 10.6% in the Miami area, 11.2% in Tampa and 11.5% in Atlanta.
What many Republican state voters are hearing is an economic argument similar to what Biden has attempted nationally — that job growth and public finances are strong enough to protect people from a downturn.
DeSantis dismissed Biden’s claims that the US economy remains sound, calling this “Orwellian doublespeak.” The governor said at the Florida Airports Council conference Aug. 1 that his state’s budget surplus could shield it from a downturn.
“We’re not immune to inflation, we’re not immune to energy prices,” DeSantis said. “Because Florida has been open, because Florida has excelled economically, we’re in a position where we’re going to be able to meet the needs of the state regardless of what Uncle Joe throws at us from Washington, DC”
Job growth was widespread across the country. Data released Friday by the Bureau of Statistics showed that employment rose in 43 states and was virtually unchanged in seven states over the past 12 months.
But the bipartisan research group EIG analyzed job growth in the top three Republican states (Texas, Arizona and Florida) and the top three Democratic states (California, Illinois and New York). He revealed that GOP areas have fully recovered and surpassed their pandemic jobs totals, while the recovery has been slower in Democratic states.
What appears to be the top priority among voters is not jobs but inflation, said John Lettieri, president and CEO of EIG. At a time of political polarization, it is striking how price fears cross generational, class, regional and partisan lines.
“There’s strong unanimity that the economy is a problem, inflation is the No. 1 problem, and Biden is to blame,” Lettieri said. “It crosses all divides. All these different ways that we carve up the electorate, they all react to that to one degree or another in a strong way.
Inflation appears to be an inescapable challenge for Biden, even as other issues such as abortion rights appear to be rallying Democratic voters. Republicans are able to promote job creations to say why they would be better at leading the economy, without having to list, as Biden pointed out in his speeches, their own consumer price reduction policies.
Gabriel Lenz, a political science professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the “best measure of what voters personally experience” is a metric known as real personal disposable income. This figure shows how much money people have after adjusting for taxes and inflation. His changes over the past two years mirror those of Democratic political fortunes.
When Biden signed the Pandemic Relief Act in March 2021, people’s real disposable income rose 28.7% from a year ago. The aid has helped the economy recover while some notable economists have warned it could also be inflationary. While prices have risen over the past year and much aid has expired, real disposable income has fallen 3.5% over the past 12 months.
Based on that number, Lenz concluded, “It’s no surprise that people are dark.”
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