The Political Failure of Bidenomics

After Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, most sensible Democrats realized they had a problem. The party was hemorrhaging support from the white working class. More than 60 percent of Americans over 25 do not have a four-year college degree; it’s very hard to win national elections without them.

So in 2020 the Democrats did something sensible. For the first time in 36 years, they nominated a presidential candidate who did not have a degree from the Ivy League. Joe Biden won the White House and immediately pursued an ambitious agenda to support the working class.

The economic results have been fantastic. During Biden’s term the U.S. economy has created 10.8 million production and nonsupervisory jobs, including nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs and 774,000 construction jobs. Wages are rising faster for people at the lower ends of the wage scale than for people at the higher ends.

A study by the economist Robert Pollin and others estimates that 61 percent of the jobs created by the infrastructure law Biden championed won’t require a college degree; the same applies for 58 percent of the jobs created by the Inflation Reduction Act and 44 percent of those created by the CHIPS act.

A study from the Brookings Institution found that since 2021 the new laws have directed almost $82 billion in strategic sector investment to the nation’s employment-distressed counties. As a result of the private investment set in motion by Biden policies, we are in the middle of an employment, manufacturing and productivity boom in many of the places that had previously been left behind, and benefiting the sorts of workers who had been hit hard by deindustrialization.

But what have been the political effects? Have these huge spending programs increased working-class support for the Democratic Party? Are the Democrats reclaiming their mantle as the party of the working class?

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