Great Economic News (That Democrats Should Be Shouting To The Skies)

[ Posted Thursday, January 27th, 2022 – 17:18 UTC ]

Joe Biden just got the best numbers of his presidency, and they have nothing to do with opinion polls. The Commerce Department today released the economic numbers for last year, and they are nothing short of phenomenal. Hopefully the media will make as big a deal over this success as they have been about inflation, because people really should have some overall context for the true state of the American economy. But if the media fails to spotlight the great economic news adequately enough, then Democrats shouldn't let them get away with it -- Democrats should continually remind the voters how good the news is and how much the economy has recovered from the pandemic, with every chance they get.

Let's take a look at the numbers themselves. Growth in the fourth quarter of 2021 clocked in at an astounding annualized rate of 6.9 percent. For the whole year -- and already adjusted for inflation -- the Gross Domestic Product grew at the whopping rate of 5.7 percent, which far outstripped all predictions made at the start of the year.

This is historically-high growth. The last time a number like this was seen was 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president (1984's G.D.P. growth was 7.2 percent). America's economy has completely recovered from the pandemic slump, pretty much no matter which way you measure it. The economy is not only bigger than it was pre-pandemic -- a mark it hit in the second quarter of this year -- but it is now almost exactly where it would have been if the growth that predated the pandemic had occurred without interruption. That is a full recovery.

And that side note is important, too. Before inflation was taken into account, the economy actually grew by a full ten percent. Inflation dragged this back to only 5.7 percent, but again that is a better number than has been seen in four decades. Even Bill Clinton's roaring economy didn't hit this mark.

Joe Biden also set records on job creation. He saw 6.4 million jobs created in his first year -- more than any other president in American history. Unemployment is far below where the experts predicted, falling to 3.9 percent at the end of the year. That is not too far off from the 3.5 percent rate it was at before the pandemic hit. We have returned to what the economists call "full employment." And this number also dramatically outpaced all the expert analysis at the beginning of 2021.

The economic recovery/expansion is expected to continue throughout 2022 as well, although at a somewhat-slower pace. The experts are now predicting growth in the range of 3.9 to 4.0 percent this year. If they're right, it would be another historic year of growth -- faster than any year in the past two decades, in fact (or at least matching it -- the growth rate for 2004 was 3.9 percent).

Of course, nobody knows what the pandemic is going to be like throughout the year. But it's important to note that the impressive fourth quarter growth happened despite the Delta wave. Omicron is (so far, knock wood...) having less impact on the economy than Delta did, but the January numbers will doubtlessly reflect the disruptions. But we're only one month in and nobody's got a crystal ball to see what the COVID virus is going to do next.

Biden got some more good news today as well -- over 14.5 million people have already signed up for an Obamacare insurance policy (during this year's open enrollment period, which is not even over everywhere yet). That is millions more people than any other year. Part of the reason for this was all the instability we all went through last year, but it was also a direct result of the American Rescue Plan Act (the emergency COVID relief bill passed in early 2021). Subsidies for buying insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces were increased, making the policies a whole lot more affordable for low-income Americans. This aid continues this year, but will run out if Congress doesn't extend it. But for now, it has directly contributed to the record number of signups.

Nothing's perfect, of course, and high inflation is still a problem both economically and politically for President Biden. Supply-chain issues persist as well (which is only a problem because Americans are trying to buy so many goods at once, of course). But while these two issues have been pretty much the only economic news the media has highlighted over the past few months, the underlying economy has been getting stronger and stronger. Maybe with today's news the focus of the coverage might change a bit (one can certainly hope).

Biden and the Democrats really need to start hammering on these numbers as well. Biden, to his credit, has already been touting the "more than six million jobs created -- more than any other president" statistic for a while, but this needs to expand into a broader reminder that the economy is actually doing amazingly well for still being in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. This is the fastest economic recovery on record, in fact. America's growth is the envy of the world right now -- and that should make Americans feel a lot better here at home, too.

It's always debatable how much credit any president can claim for a good economy (or how much blame they get when it's doing badly), but in this case Biden's prioritizing the American Rescue Plan obviously had a lot to do with what happened over the past year. Here's how one Washington Post columnist put it, for some needed context:

Which is why it's always important to remember that there's an alternate history of the pandemic we avoided, one in which the government didn't act as aggressively as it did. Would we be better off right now if inflation were at 2 percent but tens of millions more Americans were out of work, hundreds of thousands more businesses had gone bankrupt, and state and local governments had made brutal cuts to services?

Obviously, we wouldn't. But people won't see it that way unless Democrats explicitly start making this case. Republicans have done a dandy job of whipping up doom and gloom over inflation, but inflation isn't the whole picture by a long shot. So get out there and talk up the economic good news, Democrats! This is a political messaging fight during an election year, so it would be political malpractice not to make this case, as often as Democrats can manage to.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


9 Comments on “Great Economic News (That Democrats Should Be Shouting To The Skies)”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Repugs give the impression that their messaging is more proactive and less reactive like that of the Dems.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That's a very good point, Caddy. I'm gonna ponder that some more ... it could tie in with why they seem to carry the moniker of 'good stewards of the economy' even though they all belong to the Republican cult of economic failure.

  3. [3] 
    andygaus wrote:

    Specifically, Democrats need to trumpet these positive numbers by comparing them to the Trump years. "In the past year, the economy has grown by X%. The highest growth in the economy in the Trump years was Y%. In the past year, X million jobs have been created. The highest job creation in the Trump years was only Y million. The number of children in poverty, which was X at the end of Trump's term, has now fallen to Y."

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Afghanistan shaped the domestic narrative more than we think. It seemed like we didn't know what we were doing, because the word from the government didn't seem to match the facts on the ground. Justly or unjustly, that's the perception here too. You're telling me the economy is great, but unless I was unemployed last year I'm probably not going to see that up close.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yes, it seems that the really spectacularly disastrous foreign policy frak-ups - like the withdrawal from Afghanistan - is something that Americans pay attention to whether they have a job or not. ;)

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    The one thing that you gotta give the Repugs credit for is that they've figured out that saying the same thing over and over again sinks in with the voters. Obviously, what they say doesn't even have to be true so long as it's always unified and consistent.

    If only the Dems could come up with their own, er, talking points and relentlessly VASH the GOP with them. *sigh*

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    ...or even to BASH the GOP...

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It sounds simple enough.

    Republican administrations are great at leaving economic messes on the order of magnitude of the Augean Stables for Democratic administrations to clean up. Par for the course for the Republican cult of economic failure ...

  9. [9] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    The Deathocrats highlighting positive aspects (statistics) of the economy will resonate with those buying into the Deathocrats part in the show and the Republikillers highlighting the negative aspects (statistics) of the economy will resonate with those buying into the Republikillers part in the show.

    Meanwhile, your bullshit resonates with almost nobody.

    But neither "sides" highlighting will resonate with those of us that know it is just a show.

    Meanwhile, your monotonous shit remains a ginormous "no show." :)

Comments for this article are closed.