Republicans hope that inflation — and vibes — outweigh Biden’s blockbuster jobs reports

Republicans are choosing to ignore yet another blockbuster jobs report that shattered expectations and focus instead on the rising cost of living.

Stephen Moore, a senior visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic adviser for former President Donald Trump, argued that despite the positive jobs report, Americans were not feeling more upbeat about the economy because of inflation. That, he said, gave Republicans an opening to target Biden.

“Every poll for the last two years has shown that people feel worse off. And partly because for most Americans, they are worse off,” Moore said. “So we’re going to continue to blast the Biden economy as not working for middle class Americans.”

Inflation, which Republicans have been running on for much of the first few years of the Biden presidency, has come down markedly from its Covid-era high in 2022, though it’s been hovering stubbornly above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.

Knowing that general elections can hang on the success or failures of the economy — real or perceived — Republicans have also started to slice into the jobs report to find flaws.

The Republican National Committee’s rapid response shop blasted out a statement that pointed out that of the 303,000 jobs added in March, a net zero were in manufacturing. It also noted that “unemployment shot up among key demographics, including women, Black Americans, and veterans.”

But even if subsets of unemployment have been ticking back up (if they hold, since numbers can revise up or down after the initial report), the job market is still incredibly strong overall, with layoffs at unusually low levels and labor force participation increasing. And the president didn’t hesitate to take credit.

“Unemployment has been under 4% for the longest stretch in more than 50 years. Wages are going up. Inflation has come down significantly,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Friday morning.

It was good enough that White House Deputy Communications Director Herbie Ziskend tagged Biden’s statement on the jobs numbers as “Bidenomics” — reclaiming a moniker Republicans had been using to describe a lagging post-pandemic economy.

David Malpass, who served as Trump’s under secretary of the Treasury for international affairs, conceded the job numbers looked good but returned to a common GOP talking point: the national debt.

“Job gains are welcome but government spending is fueling many of the gains,” he said in a statement to POLITICO. “Everyone sees the result — national debt is going through the roof.”

Still, there are risks to Biden’s rosy outlook. The Fed is keeping interest rates at punishing levels for the time being as progress on inflation has begun to plateau. If price spikes continue to cool, Chair Jerome Powell is hoping to lower borrowing costs later than this year, but he’s in no rush to do so while economic activity remains robust and joblessness stays low.

Gas prices and global commodity prices have been ticking back up, which could stoke inflation in ways that the Fed isn’t designed to combat.

The RNC Research account on X pointed out that gas prices are “up 50% since Biden took office.”

Meanwhile, the rising cost of living has continually weighed on Americans’ assessment of the economy. Those sentiment numbers are improving, and wages are now growing faster than prices, but Biden is still neck-and-neck with Trump in the national polls, and is down significantly in swing states. His approval rating overall is still underwater.

“Public sentiment is impossible to move on this issue because the Biden administration has shown themselves to be so out of touch and American families are still under intense economic pressure,” said Michael McAdams, a GOP strategist and an alum of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

And Republicans think it will stay that way and will help them up and down the ballot.

“Voters overwhelmingly view Joe Biden’s economic policies as harmful to our country,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Mike Berg. “That is why you haven’t seen a single Democrat Senate candidate in a competitive race campaign on Bidenomics.”

With the election exactly seven months away, Moore said he was skeptical that inflation would dissipate by the time voters cast their ballots.

“The problem right now for Biden,” he argued, “isn’t jobs.”

Ally Mutnick contributed to this report.


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