Biden hails hot GDP report, but voters don't see the rosy picture Wall Street does

President Joe Biden speaks during an event on the economy, from the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.

Jacquelyn Martin | AP

WASHINGTON —  The U.S. GDP grew at 5% last quarter, better than expected, and President Joe Biden said it was evidence that his economic policies are working.

“I never believed we would need a recession to bring inflation down – and today we saw again that the American economy continues to grow even as inflation has come down,” Biden said in a statement on the new data. “It is a testament to the resilience of American consumers and American workers, supported by Bidenomics.”

Thursday’s Commerce Department report showed gross domestic product, the measure of all goods and services produced in the U.S., rose at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.9% annualized, in the third quarter.

The number beat Wall Street expectations and marked the biggest quarterly GDP gain since late 2021. Nearly half of the growth came from consumer spending.

The report was the latest data point indicating that the U.S. economy is strong, and it came as good news for the White House and the president’s 2024 reelection campaign.

For months, Biden has traveled the country giving speeches on his economic agenda, dubbed “Bidenomics,” and the booming economy. Yet polling shows Americans overall are still uncertain that the economy is truly strong, and voters still favor Republicans on economic issues.

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An NBC News poll released last month found the GOP advantage on the economy to be the highest recorded in more than three decades of NBC News polling.

Nearly half, 49%, of the poll respondents said Republicans do a better job on the economy, compared with 28% who said Democrats do. The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Independent voters in the poll favored Republicans’ handling of economic issues by a striking figure, 25 percentage points.

The poll also found that a majority of voters disapproved of Biden’s economic track record, 59% to 37% approving.

Meanwhile, economists for months have worried that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes to ease inflation would trigger a recession.

Price increases have been running higher than the central bank’s 2% annual target, but the rate of inflation has ebbed this summer, falling to about a third of what it was a year ago. 

For Biden, inflation has been a near-constant challenge, and one he has sought to downplay in remarks about the economy. Thursday was no exception.

The unemployment rate has been below 4% for 20 months in a row, real wages are up over the last year, and median wealth for American families has grown by a record amount, accounting for inflation,” he said.

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