U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke up on the state of the economy last weekend. On ABC’s “This Week,” Buttigieg said that President Joe Biden should be able to use the upcoming State of the Union to “make the case” that the economy has recovered.
“You make the case by pointing to the reality and recognizing that the story won’t tell itself,” Pete Buttigieg said before emphasizing that 517,000 jobs had been added to the U.S. economy in January and that the current unemployment rate of 3.4% is the lowest since 1969.
“What we’re seeing is extraordinary,” Buttigieg said. “Record job creation, as the president has pointed out, more created in two years on his watch than four years on any other president’s watch, and usually, when you have unemployment go down like this, you have inflation go up. But right now, inflation is going down as well.”
Yet Buttigieg’s assessment has a problem: millions of Americans disagree.
Pete Buttigieg Goes to Bat for Biden
An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 41% of Americans “say they’re not as well off financially as they were when Biden took office – the most in almost 40 years of ABC News/Washington Post polling.” Meanwhile, the poll shows that only 16% of Americans feel that they are better off financially today than when Biden took office.
Buttigieg was confronted on “This Week” with the poll numbers, which he dismissed, saying the country has “been through a lot.”
Yes, it has.
“The president and the entire administration recognize that there continue to be headwinds, challenges, problems facing this economy,” Pete Buttigieg said. “After all, the president took office under some of the most challenging circumstances facing any president in modern times.”
Buttigieg continued, stating that increased wages and increased participation in the labor force were signs of economic strength. Buttigieg said that “we can expect continued improvement” if the administration continues “successful policies.”
Buttigieg’s defense of Biden and his policies is standard operating procedure. Buttigieg is a Biden appointee after all. Actually, Buttigieg is much more than a Biden appointee; Buttigieg is something of a Biden protégé. So, you’d better believe Buttigieg is going to defend Biden and his policies. But the discrepancy between Buttigieg’s outlook and the way Americans are feeling on the ground has sparked some irritation – the type of irritation Republicans will hope to capitalize on during the next election cycle.
Republicans Critical of Biden and the Economy
Republicans are arguing that Biden has been “reckless and wasteful in their government spending.” Republicans’ main arguments are that inflation is at the highest in forty years and the national debt has crossed over $30 trillion for the first time ever.
The economy, as per usual, will be a crucial point during the upcoming presidential election. Republicans will of course deeply scrutinize Biden’s economic performance in the hopes of getting a Republican back in the Oval Office. So Biden will be expected to defend his economic record, which proxies like Pete Buttigieg are clearly already doing. And while Biden has not yet declared his intention to run for re-election, the going expectation is that Biden will absolutely run – and that he will announce shortly.
Pete Buttigieg didn’t comment on whether Biden would run for re-election, but he said Biden has been an “absolutely historically successful president and I want to see that continue.”
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.