‘The economy turned back on’: White House defends Biden deficit reduction boasts
The White House on Monday defended President Joe Biden‘s claims of shoring up the economy while slashing the federal budget deficit, saying the “economy turned back on” under his watch.
Biden spoke earlier in the day before the Democratic National Committee, saying he cut the annual national deficit from $2.8 trillion to $1.4 trillion in his first year. But a reporter challenged that notion during the afternoon press briefing, saying the reduction can be entirely attributed to expiring pandemic spending, which is more than offset by future spending to transfer student loan debt.
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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the administration’s record on the economy, bringing up the 2017 Republican-backed tax cuts that were unfunded and then touting the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan for stimulating a recovery.
“The American Rescue Plan got those schools open, got those small businesses open again, and really made us and put us in a place where the economy turned back on,” she said. “You’re giving me data, but there’s also data that shows unemployment is the lowest it has been in 50 years.”
The reporter also brought up jobs but suggested that those numbers too can be misleading.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics says only about 514,000 jobs have been nearly created,” said the reporter, Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich. “How are people supposed to take this kind of messaging on their most important issue seriously when some of this feels like smoke and mirrors?”
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget agreed that the end of COVID-19-related spending explains all of the 2022 deficit decline and that future deficits could continue rising thanks to changes in economic projections.
Jean-Pierre stressed that the deficit had been cut, adding that Republicans would increase costs for consumers if they retake control of Congress.
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“Reducing the deficit is real,” she said. “That is historic as well. In one year, that’s what the president has been able to do. Those are real numbers that matter as we talk about inflation and the economy.”