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June 28, 2023. Biden boosting his economic record in Chicago, Illinois.

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Decoding ‘Bidenomics’ and its role in the US election

16 year-old Camilla Savelieva explains the intricacies of President Biden’s economic policies

For US President Joe Biden, ‘Bidenomics’ is an economic policy that focuses on improving the economy primarily by helping the middle class, rather than relying on ‘trickle-down’ policies.

First coined by critics before the 2020 election the term was later reclaimed by the Democrats and described by Biden last summer as a way of “restoring the American Dream”. But since the start of 2024, it seems to have been dropped by the Biden administration after being increasingly used by opponents and critics to attack the current administration’s policies.

But what does this term, both a source of fiery criticism and fervent support for the president, actually mean for Americans?

Bidenomics involves three main concepts: investment in infrastructure and clean energy; empowerment of the middle and working classes; and the promotion of healthy business competition.

According to the White House, Biden plans to build the economy ‘from the middle out and the bottom up’. In his 2023 State of the Union speech, he claimed that “when the middle class does well, the poor have a ladder up and the wealthy still do very well”, meaning that prosperity for the middle class would benefit every sector of the US economy.

Biden has enacted multiple laws to support his economic plans. In November 2021, he signed into law an act that put $1.2tn towards improving US infrastructure including repairing and building roads, providing clean drinking water, and aiming to reduce the impact of a climate crisis.

The American Rescue Plan Act (2021) also provided $1.9tn in response to the COVID-19  pandemic, aiming to help those who need it most, from schools to the unemployed and local governments. The Inflation Reduction Act (2022) pumped billions into clean energy and infrastructure, to help achieve Biden’s climate goals.

According to the White House, as of March 2024, the American Rescue Plan led to the ‘strongest jobs recovery on record’, with 15mn jobs added since Biden took office. Also stated was how, following the pandemic, the US had the ‘fastest recovery in the G7’ (an intergovernmental organisation that addresses worldwide economic issues, members include Canada, Germany, the USA).

Since the end of 2021, unemployment has been at or below 4% – the longest continuous stretch of 4% unemployment since 1960. However, the Washington Centre for Equitable Growth mainly attributes this historically low rate to pandemic-related factors and other influences rather than Biden’s economic policies, such as global energy shocks and massive shifts in consumer behaviour.

As for what Americans think of Biden’s climate policy, statistics published in June 2023 by the Pew Research Center show a wide divide between the two main parties.

Among Democrat supporters, older adults favour Biden’s climate policy significantly more than Gen Z. Among Republican supporters, 82% believe Biden is taking the country in the wrong direction regarding climate change.

Even with his attempts to address the problems, Biden continues to face criticism. Some hold him accountable for increases in the costs of basic necessities such as food and gasoline, with food prices jumping 25% from pre-pandemic figures. Median household income also fell through most of 2022 after peaking in 2019.

While wages have returned to pre-pandemic figures, this increase looks more like a fluctuation than a steady, intended and sustainable growth. According to a November 2023 survey by Democratic group Navigator Research, 96% of respondents considered themselves either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ concerned with rising costs, with 74% characterising the economy as either ‘not so good’ or ‘poor’.

The housing affordability crisis in the US has added to these concerns.

The country is short of around 3.2mn homes, resulting in all-time high prices. Naturally, this dampens the message of economic prosperity that Biden hopes to sell to the youth, working and middle classes as part of his campaign.

With mortgage rates so steep that homeowners feel unable to move, and many renters forsaking the idea of home ownership entirely, its understandable how many Americans feel negatively about the economy.

The very demographics (young, Black and Hispanic voters) who helped Biden to victory in 2020 are also the groups most statistically likely to be renters – and subsequently Biden ‘barely leads at all’ among them. Instead, voters are likely to go to his Republican rival, Donald Trump, or plan to stay home on election day altogether, as confirmed in findings by Vox and Politico.

Although housing did not appear to be one of the main focuses when Bidenomics was launched, the White House has since attempted to change this by advocating for more aggressive federal action, such as tax credits that subsidise construction costs, and increasing the supply of affordable housing.

So where does this all place Biden with his competitor Trump? According to a constantly updating average rating of the latest polls, compiled by FiveThirtyEight, 55.7% of citizens disapprove of Biden, and only 38.9% approve, as of June 19. For Trump, as of June 19,  53.7% disapprove and 41.6% approval, with an overall 0.5% lead in national polls.

Republican politicians have used the term ‘Bidenomics’ over 450 times in March alone, looking to slam Biden and his policy altogether. Even Biden himself has appeared to distance himself from the phrase, suggesting his camp is also looking at new ways to appeal to voters.

Written by:


Camilla Savelieva

Economics editor

United Kingdom

Camilla was born in 2007 in London. She joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 as one of the winners of the first edition of the Harbinger Prize. In 2024, she became the Economics editor for the magazine.

She is interested in politics, history, and economics and enjoys writing about these subjects. Camilla speaks English, Russian, French, and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys debating, reading and singing.

Edited by:


Christian Yeung

Society editor

Hong Kong | United States


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