By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will deliver what his aides are billing as a major economic policy speech on Wednesday, laying down a key marker for his re-election campaign.
Plans for a speech in Chicago on “Bidenomics,” which have not previously been reported and were seen in a White House advisory by Reuters, come as Biden is ramping up political events and travel two months after launching his re-election campaign.
The 2024 election will in part be seen as a referendum on Biden’s handing of the economy. Job creation and low unemployment are the positives while elevated inflation and the knock-on effect on interest rates over the past year have stoked fears of recession.
More than half – 54% – of Americans disapprove of how Biden is handing his job, while just 35% of respondents approved of his stewardship of the economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month.
Those figures are a bad sign for Biden and his fellow Democrats, given that voters also rate the economy as their number-one issue.
The U.S. economy grew at a 1.3% annualized rate in the first quarter and unemployment was at 3.7% in May, when inflation rose at a 4% year-over-year rate.
Biden aides see those figures as positive signs of a transition to more stable levels of growth after a sharp rebound from the COVID-19 recession.
But Federal Reserve officials have said they think they have “a long way to go” to get inflation back down to healthy levels and may need to raise rates more, a risk to Biden’s plans to keep economic growth at levels that can keep employers hiring.
Former President Donald Trump, the early frontrunner for the Republican Party’s nomination, has made inflation a key element of his attacks on Biden in the early months of the race.
“Bidenomics” is a catch-all term his aides use to describe his economic vision, including hiking taxes on the uber-wealthy and corporations in order to subsidize childcare as well as semiconductors, electric vehicles and other advanced industry.
In his speech, Biden is expected to recast familiar themes, including his opposition to Republican “trickle-down” economics, in and make a case for his policies and plans to cut the deficit, build infrastructure, bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas and tax the wealthy.
Biden, 80, is also expected to attend a fundraising event while he is in the Chicago area ahead of a deadline for federal fundraising records. He is not expected to face a serious fight for his party’s nomination.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Kieran Murray and Alistair Bell)