President Biden is “really aware” of the recent stock market decline, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday when asked about the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost all of its gains since Biden took office.
The Dow closed Monday at its lowest point since January 2021 as soaring inflation and rising interest rates spur fear of an economic recession.
Before the recent stock slide, Biden often touted the market doing well, though he usually made a point of saying that he didn’t regard it as the only important economic indicator.
For example, Biden said Jan. 7, “the stock market — the last guy’s measure of everything — is about 20% higher than it was when my predecessor was there. It has hit record after record after record on my watch, while making things more equitable for working-class people. At the same time, we’ve created jobs, reduced unemployment, raised wages.”
On Monday afternoon, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy confronted Jean-Pierre with that quote, saying, “President Biden once bragged about the stock market hitting ‘record after record after record on my watch’. How about now?”
“All the gains from President Biden’s time in office have been wiped out,” Doocy added.
“So, as you know, we’re watching closely. We know families are concerned about inflation and the stock market. That’s something that the president is really aware of,” Jean-Pierre said.
“And so look, we face global challenges. We’ve talked about this. We’re not the only country dealing with what we’re seeing at the moment as it relates to inflation. You know, Putin’s price hike, inflation coming out of a once-in-a-generation global pandemic, all of those things play a factor.”
Jean-Pierre then said, “the way that we see this is that the American people are well-positioned to face these challenges because of the economic historic gains that we have made under this president.”
Doocy then followed up, “So as you say that Americans are well positioned to weather this stock market decline, what is the president’s message to somebody who might want to retire but their 401K is getting wiped out?”
“We know that higher prices are having a real effect on people’s lives,” Jean-Pierre replied. “We get that and we are incredibly focused on doing everything that we can to make sure that the economy is working for every American people [sic]. But we are coming out of the strongest job market in American history and that matters and that — a lot of that — is thanks to the American Rescue Plan, which only Democrats voted for that. Republicans did not. And it led to this economic boom, this historic economic boom.”
Doocy interjected: “Didn’t it also lead to historic inflation?”
“No, that is not — that is, that is, that is not — that is not how we’re seeing the American Rescue Plan. Look, the president came in — we have to remember what the president walked into,” she said.
“When he walked into this administration, the economy was at a standstill. Schools were closed and businesses were shutting down, 20 million people were on unemployment insurance benefits. That is what he walked into. And he took action. He wrote, he got the American Rescue Plan [Act] done. Democrats — only Democrats voted for it. And it helped turn the economy around, including getting more than 200 million people vaccinated, having a comprehensive vaccination plan that was not in place when he walked into the administration.”
In fact, Biden took office amid a mass-vaccination campaign that allowed for the end of COVID-19 pandemic business restrictions, helping fuel rising stock values last year. The mass-vaccination drive began in December 2020 while Donald Trump was still president and continued under Biden.
Republicans, federal bankers and Amazon/Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos say that excessive government stimulus, including Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, caused high inflation — which hit a fresh four-decade high of 8.6% in May, the worst rate since 1981.
Biden has blamed inflation on pandemic supply chain bottlenecks and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which increased fuel and food prices, as well as alleged price gouging by meat producers, oil companies and shipping conglomerates. He’s also called on Congress to pass another $2 trillion package of social spending and environmental initiatives, which he said would lower various costs of living.
Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, which passed without any Republican support, was not offset by new revenue and included $350 billion for state and local governments, $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, an extended $300 weekly unemployment supplement and continuation of an expanded annual child tax credit to $3,000-$3,600, up from $2,000 per child.
A study released in late March by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco said that in the final quarter of 2021, about 3 percentage points of inflation — or nearly half of it at the time — may have been caused by government pandemic spending.