Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen on Thursday defended the Biden administration’s economic agenda, drawing sharp contrasts with the Trump administration’s policies as President Biden begins to argue in the general election that he will do more for the economy than his predecessor. Has been a strong manager.
Ms Yellen’s comments come after new data released on Thursday delivered this message: The United States economy grew at a healthy clip over the past year, surpassing 3 percent and defying expectations of a recession. Gave. The strong numbers coincide with an effort by the White House to tout the president’s economic record and dispatch his top economic advisers across the country to prove that his strategy is working.
Biden administration officials are trying to convince a skeptical public that, although they may feel pessimistic about the economy, its performance is benefiting average Americans. Officials are expected to highlight investments Mr. Biden has made in the coming months toward infrastructure, domestic manufacturing and clean energy projects.
In a speech at the Economic Club of Chicago, Ms. Yellen argued that the Biden administration has successfully overcome challenging adversities caused by the pandemic and led a recovery that has lagged the rest of the world. He also suggested the Biden administration needs more time to tackle affordability issues like improving access to child care and housing.
“Our economic agenda is not finished yet,” Ms. Yellen said.
The Treasury secretary criticized Mr Biden’s predecessor and potential rival, former President Donald J. Also took the rare step of directly criticizing Trump’s policies. Pointing to Mr Trump’s repeated pledges to rebuild America’s roads and bridges, he recalled how those promises remained unfulfilled.
“Our nation’s infrastructure has been deteriorating for decades,” Ms. Yellen said. “In the Trump administration, the idea of doing anything to fix this was a punchline.”
Ms Yellen also criticized Mr Trump’s tax cuts, criticizing him for implementing the 2017 tax law, saying they enriched corporations, increased America’s budget deficit and did nothing to strengthen the economy. .
“Past measures like the Trump administration’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased the deficit by $2 trillion while doing nothing to boost investment,” Ms Yellen said.
As a candidate, Mr. Trump has called for extending tax cuts that expire next year and imposing more tariffs on imports. Under Mr Trump, the United States imposed tariffs on more than $300 billion of Chinese imports.
The Treasury secretary avoids wading into politics, but Ms. Yellen told reporters before her speech that she believed it was important to address policy differences between the Trump and Biden administrations.
“I am not getting involved in politics,” Ms. Yellen said. “But certainly tax policy is something I’m deeply involved in and macroeconomic policy, and explaining to Americans what the strategy is and why it’s right, and why taxes are being cut for the rich. And expecting that benefits will be largely reduced is not the right strategy.”
Ms. Yellen’s speech came as Mr. Biden traveled to Wisconsin to unveil nearly $5 billion of infrastructure investments in the key state.
It is unclear whether the administration’s efforts will reach voters, many of whom continue to give Mr. Biden poor marks on the economy. Although inflation is declining, Americans are still facing prices that are much higher than before the pandemic. Mr. Biden is to blame for this, and in a November New York Times/Siena College survey of voters in six battleground states, 62 percent of voters who supported Mr. Biden in 2020 indicated that they thought the economy was only “fair.” ” Is. Or “poor.”
Rising interest rates have made housing more expensive and the labor market is expected to tighten this year due to the recession in the economy. Economists also expect further disruptions in energy markets, as wars in Ukraine and Gaza continue to threaten trade routes.
Ms Yellen acknowledged that inflation was falling, but said more needed to be done to reduce costs. He said the administration is working to reduce prices of medicines and energy.
“Although inflation has declined, prices of items that matter to middle-class Americans remain too high, so we are taking additional action,” Ms Yellen said.
While rising prices have weighed on consumer sentiment for months, the latest indicators show signs of greater optimism. University of Michigan preliminary survey for January showed an unexpected surge In consumer sentiment that pushed the index to its highest level since July 2021, before inflation rose.
Commerce Department data released Thursday showed the U.S. economy continued to grow at a healthy pace through the end of 2023, with gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, growing at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter.