Biden Pitches Economy to a Skeptical Public in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — President Biden sought to persuade Americans on Thursday that the economy is doing better on his watch than many believe and warned that Republicans would make it harder for the middle class to afford education, health care and other necessities if they win Congress next week.

“The economy is up, price inflation is down, real incomes are up, gas prices are down and need to come down further,” Mr. Biden told a rally of supporters in New Mexico as he stumped for Democrats running for governor and Congress. “The American people are beginning to see the benefits of an economy that works for them,” he added, while conceding that “a lot of Americans are still in trouble.”

In a speech heavy on statistics, the president rattled off a series of indicators meant to bolster his argument, citing near-record-low unemployment, a burst of new manufacturing jobs, expanded access to health care, export growth, reduced federal deficits and rising gross national product. He pointed to policies he has championed to forgive student loan debt, curb the cost of prescription drugs for retirees and force large corporations that have paid little or no taxes to pay at least 15 percent.

“How many of you have any student debt?” he asked the crowd gathered at the Ted M. Gallegos Community Center. “Say goodbye! Say goodbye!”

Mr. Biden’s stop in New Mexico opened a five-day swing that will also take him to California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and Maryland by Election Day, mostly to blue states where a Democratic president with mediocre approval ratings is still welcome.

Some of his economic claims were incomplete or misleading — gasoline prices, for instance, have come down since peaking last summer but remain significantly higher than when Mr. Biden took office. Yet the president’s biggest challenge in the few days remaining before Tuesday is changing the minds of enough Americans who do not see the economy in such robust terms. While jobs are plentiful, inflation hit a 40-year-high this year, eating away at many household budgets and souring the public mood.

In a recent poll by The New York Times and Siena College, 47 percent identified economic issues as the most important factors in deciding their votes and a new survey by CNN indicated that three-quarters of Americans believe the economy is in recession even though it grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent last quarter.

In a nod to public pessimism, Mr. Biden sought to make the case that it could be much worse if Republicans win next week and manage to reverse his policies, noting that they are already in court trying to invalidate his student loan forgiveness and have floated reductions in Social Security and Medicare.

He mocked Republicans who were “whining” about the minimum corporate tax rate he signed into law and want to eliminate it to cut taxes for the wealthy. And he said they would reverse his new law capping the cost of medicines like insulin.

“It’s reckless and irresponsible,” he said. “It would make inflation considerably worse” and “badly hurt working-class and middle-class Americans.”

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