President Biden stumbled over his words Thursday during a speech at the Philly Shipyard in Philadelphia, where he took credit for low unemployment and decreasing inflation.
The president approached the podium with pep in his step to address a crowd of union supporters about the apparent successes of “Bidenomics” — perhaps too much so as he spoke energetically but seemed to trip over his words.
“I often say, and I mean this sincerely, Wall Street — good folks down there — but they didn’t build the middle class. They didn’t build America. The middle class was built by the middle class,” Biden said, fumbling his oft-repeated line that the middle class built the American economy and “unions built the middle class.”
The president spoke quickly, assuring his audience in one breath that he’s a “capitalist” while disparaging the “trickle-down” policies of Republican presidents with another.
“I watched my dad growing up, and not a whole lot of benefit trickled down on his kitchen table as a consequence of trickle-down economics,” Biden said. Then he became incoherent.
“To what everyone from Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal has become my change, my different philosophy, they, I don’t think they started off trying to be complimentary because they started calling it ‘Bidenomics,’” the president said. “And our plan is working, Bidenomics.”
It’s not immediately clear what the president intended to say. The White House did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
However, the president in recent weeks has embraced the media-coined term as a catch-all descriptor for his economic policies. Despite polls showing voters aren’t convinced the economy is improving, Biden delivered a full-throated defense of Bidenomics, claiming credit for 13 million new jobs created since he assumed office.
“Unemployment is below 4%, the longest stretch of unemployment below 4% in the last 50 years,” Biden said.
“Unemployment’s down, but to the surprise of a lot of economists, so is inflation,” he added. “You got to cut wages for hard-working folks? You got to have unemployment up in order for inflation to come down? Well, guess what, I never bought that.”
Biden also said his policies have slashed the federal deficit by $1.7 trillion, that the Inflation Reduction Act made the “largest investment to combat climate” anywhere in the world (at a $368 billion price tag), and he promised that building green infrastructure would lead to more good-paying union jobs.
Republicans fired back at some of these claims, with the RNC observing on Twitter that prices rose 16.6% since Biden took office and inflation has yet to meet the Federal Reserve’s target rate. Biden took office in January 2021 with inflation just over 1%, which rose to 9.1% by June 2022 and has since dropped to under 4%.
Fact-checkers have also pushed back on the president. In June, Biden made the same claim about cutting the deficit by $1.7 trillion, which The Washington Post rated “highly misleading” as others also scrutinized the claim.
Voters also have their doubts; Biden had a 60% disapproval rating on the economy in Fox News’ June poll, which was a 7% improvement from the prior year.
But the president’s argument is whatever progress there has been in his first term needs to be continued as he campaigns for a second.
“I’m not here to declare victory. We got a long way to go in the economy,” Biden said. “I’m here to say we have more work to do. We have a plan that’s turning things around pretty quickly. Bidenomics is just another way of saying ‘restore the American dream.’”
Fox News’ Lawrence Richard and Patrick Hauf contributed to this report.