By JOE BIDEN
The White House
I wrote in these pages a year ago that with the right policies, the United States could make a transition from rapid recovery to stable, steady growth with lower inflation, sustaining the historic economic gains that American workers had achieved. I also expressed my confidence in our ability to rebuild the economy from the middle out and bottom up and move beyond the failed trickle-down economic policies of the past to build an economy that works for working families.
In the past year, many economic forecasters and commentators opined that such a transition wasn’t likely. A chorus of skeptics predicted that the investments in clean energy and manufacturing I proposed would never become law. Some believed a manufactured debt-limit crisis would reverse our progress and send the economy into recession.
Look at how far we’ve come. Since I took office, our economy has created more than 13 million jobs, including nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs. We added 339,000 jobs last month alone. The unemployment rate has remained below 4% for 16 months – a level the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in February 2021 it wouldn’t reach until 2026. Our recovery also has been historically equitable, with record-low unemployment rates for African American workers, Hispanic workers and workers with disabilities – as well as the lowest unemployment rate in 70 years for women. Although some commentators have argued that my policies were driving Americans out of the labor force, the share of working-age Americans in the workforce hasn’t been higher in more than 20 years – and is higher now than it was during the entirety of the previous administration.
Hardworking families are reaping the rewards. Fewer Americans are behind on their mortgages or filing for bankruptcy than before the pandemic. Real income for the bottom half of earners is up by 3.4% since I took office.
Our economic recovery has been the strongest of any major economy. My goal now is to protect and build on this progress. That is why I fought so hard to bring Democrats and Republicans in Congress together to compromise on the budget and prevent a catastrophic default that would have plunged the economy into a recession, decimating retirement accounts and costing our country millions of jobs. Neither side got everything it wanted, but the American people got what they needed.
The budget agreement builds on a commitment I made a year ago, also in these pages, to continue to reduce the deficit. I have now signed legislation into law that reduces the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, building on the $1.7 trillion drop in the deficit during my first two years. And I have proposed policies that would reduce the deficit by an additional $2.5 trillion by cutting wasteful spending on special interests and ensuring the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations pay their fair share in tax.
Over the past year, my administration also has taken historic action to lower costs for American families. The Inflation Reduction Act gave Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, capped insulin at $35 a month, and is lowering health-insurance premiums for 15 million Americans. Gas prices are down more than $1.40 from their peak in June 2022. The annual inflation rate has fallen for 10 months straight and is lower than in the U.K. and Europe. Our work isn’t done, but as supply chains continue to unsnarl, company profit margins fall from historically high levels, and rent prices continue to moderate, inflation should decline further, creating more breathing room for working families.
I’ve also signed into law once-in-a generation public investments in America’s infrastructure, semiconductor industry, and clean-energy industry that are laying the foundation for shared, durable and resilient long-term growth – the kind that will allow us to win the economic competition for the 21st century. My Investing in America agenda has already catalyzed $479 billion in private sector investments in the industries of the future. We are producing more of what we consume and invest here at home while creating good-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree. And as we bring back manufacturing, we are also bringing back a sense of pride and dignity for many communities that have been left behind.
Of course, we must always look out for risks and guard against them. We have seen what global energy-market disruptions can do to the economy, which underscores the urgency of implementing the clean energy and energy security investments I have signed into law. My administration will continue to make our markets and industries more competitive and resilient. We will also continue to push for tax reforms that reduce the deficit by closing loopholes and raising revenue from wealthy Americans and the largest corporations, while giving families with children and low-income Americans more breathing room.
Our work isn’t finished, and we could see setbacks along the way. Our hard-won progress over the past two years has reaffirmed my bedrock belief that it is never a good idea to bet against hardworking Americans or the American economy.
President Joe Biden is the president of the United States. Previously, he represented Delaware for 36 years in the U.S. Senate – starting as the youngest to be elected to the Senate – before becoming the 47th vice president of the United States. On Jan. 20, 2021, he became the 46th president of the United States. He can be reached through https://www.whitehouse.gov.