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American views on the U.S. economy
By Tom Fowdy  ·  2022-05-27  ·   Source: NO.22 JUNE 2, 2022

The U.S. economy is not in good shape. Already rocked by surging inflation at a rate of 8.5 percent per annum, its annualized GDP for the first quarter of the year declined by 1.4 percent, missing expectations of continued growth.

Despite this increasingly unfavorable picture, the Joe Biden administration continues to insist that the economy is strong and delivering. The president bragged about a fall in unemployment on Twitter, omitting the context that this number was a product of pandemic recovery, not necessarily his policies.

As it happens, most Americans aren't buying it. New data from a CNN politics poll published in May found that "most Americans have a dismal view of the U.S. economy" and that "the U.S. public's view of the nation's economy is the worst it's been in a decade," a conclusion which is, in fact, bipartisan and backed by a majority of even Democrat voters.

The poll found overall that only 23 percent of American adults believe the economy is in good shape, down from 54 percent a year ago. This is coupled with increasingly poor approval ratings—41 percent for and 59 percent against—for Biden himself.

When that question focuses on the economy, the number even drops to 37 percent. The survey further found that only 19 percent of Americans think Biden's policies have improved the country's economic conditions, with 26 percent saying they've had "no effect" and 55 percent saying they've "worsened the situation."

But how exactly are things getting worse for the average American? The answer is seemingly in the tidal wave of inflation that has struck the U.S., exacerbated by an overinflation of the money supply and tariffs on imports from China imposed in the Donald Trump era. Only 41 percent of Americans believe they are better off than a year ago.

Specific evidence that inflation is taking its toll on Americans is reflected in the survey's finding that 63 percent of adults have had to "reduce nonessential spending" due to economic circumstances, with the same total being forced to "change their grocery-buying habits." In addition, 54 percent have had to "cut back significantly on driving" while a third have struggled with affordable housing, a score that increases to 57 percent for people under 35. 

This not only shows how inflation is affecting Americans but also points to how longstanding wealth inequalities throughout the country are impacting growth and consumerism. 

In this regard, the American people think Biden is not doing enough. The CNN poll further found that 81 percent of Americans believe the government is not doing enough to reduce inflation, with the Biden administration having not yet removed Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods—a fundamental factor in the rising costs.

This also demonstrates how unrealistic Trump's "America First" policies are in terms of jobs and supply chains. There is no indication whatsoever that manufacturing in America will make goods more accessible or affordable. Instead, this protectionist doctrine itself is a fundamental part of the problem.

The spiral of inflation, a slip in GDP, and rising living costs are challenges the Biden administration needs to deal with urgently. As such, some decisive measures need to be taken which should put America's true interests first.

The author is a British political and international relations analyst and a columnist with China.org.cn  

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon 

Comments to yanwei@cicgamericas.com  

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