Nov 04, 2022
President Joe Biden on Friday accused the Republican leadership of "rooting for a recession" after new Labor Department figures showed the U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs in October, more than analysts expected but down slightly from the previous month.
"Today's jobs report--adding 261,000 jobs with the unemployment rate still at a historically low 3.7%--shows that our jobs recovery remains strong," Biden said in a statement.
"Cutting corporate taxes and allowing Big Pharma to raise prices again is the Republican inflation plan."
Progressive economists largely echoed that sentiment, with the caveats that hiring is cooling and wage growth is decelerating significantly, a sign that the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes are taking their toll on the economy and workers. Biden has declined to criticize Fed Chair Jerome Powell for actively trying to weaken the labor market, even as a growing number of Democratic lawmakers warn he is about to throw millions out of work.
In his statement Friday, the president said that "inflation is our top economic challenge" and acknowledged that "American families are feeling squeezed."
With the midterms just days away, the president sought to draw a sharp contrast between his policy agenda and that of the GOP, which he said wants to "increase prescription drug costs, health insurance costs, and energy costs, while giving more tax breaks to big corporations and the very wealthy."
"I've got a plan to bring costs down, especially for healthcare, energy, and other everyday expenses," Biden declared. "Here's the deal: cutting corporate taxes and allowing Big Pharma to raise prices again is the Republican inflation plan and it's a disaster."
The notion that the GOP is hoping for and cheering on bad economic news with the goal of capitalizing politically was echoed by other Democrats as Republican lawmakers bashed the new jobs report as "the worst of the Biden presidency" and evidence of a "Biden-induced recession."
"MAGA Republicans' extreme agenda would make inflation much worse: plotting to repeal lower prescription drug costs, give tax breaks to the ultra-rich, and slash Social Security and Medicare," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), chair of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, added in a statement that "stronger-than-expected GDP growth in the third quarter, which made up for all the losses incurred by the declines in the first and second quarters, reflects confidence in the resilience of the U.S. economy."
"They are threatening debt default and economic catastrophe to gut Social Security and Medicare, which could eliminate nearly six million jobs and cost the U.S. billions of dollars in lost economic activity," said Beyer. "Republicans are threatening to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which would raise prescription drug costs and health insurance premiums. And they are planning giveaways to big corporations and the wealthy at the expense of everyday workers and families, which would stoke higher inflation and leave most U.S. households worse off."
Republicans have made the economy, and inflation in particular, central to their midterm attacks on Democrats. But the right-wing party's leadership and candidates have done little to spell out an alternative agenda that would bring prices down from a four-decade high--and some of their proposals, such as making former President Donald Trump's tax cuts for the rich permanent, would exacerbate the problem.
Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik noted earlier this week that "a look at the GOP's election manifesto, the 'Commitment to America' recently issued by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), reveals no specifics. Nor have Republican candidates done so during the multitude of appearances they've made on cable talk shows, despite specific and pointed questions by the hosts."
"Undoubtedly, more can be done [to combat inflation]," Hiltzik continued. "President Biden is jawboning oil companies about their huge run-up in profits, but that's just one industry. Corporate profits have soared since mid-2020 while average worker earnings have remained muted--a little-noticed spur to inflation."
"Has the GOP embraced those ideas? Of course not--corporate managements and the big oil companies are its patrons," he added.
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