Yellen contrasts Biden and Trump economic policies in bid to win voters

Treasury Secretary touts 'Bidenomics' agenda, saying it has allowed US to establish 'fairest recovery on record' following the Covid-19 pandemic

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addresses the Chicago Economic Club. AFP
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In an effort to win voters ahead of the 2024 US election, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the middle class is better off under President Joe Biden's administration than they would be under Donald Trump.

“Overall, the Biden administration has put in place the most extensive set of policies and investments to benefit the middle class and grow the economy that our country has seen in my lifetime,” she said in prepared remarks at the Economic Club of Chicago.

Ms Yellen's speech came days after the White House acknowledged that Mr Trump would likely be the Republican nominee following his victory in the New Hampshire primary.

With a Biden-Trump rematch a near certainty at this point, Ms Yellen used her remarks to contrast their two economic policies, pointing to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Mr Biden signed into law in 2021.

“In the Trump administration, the idea of doing anything to fix it was a punchline. But this administration has delivered,” she said.

She also touted the “Bidenomics” agenda – which has put the middle class at the centre of economic activity – saying it has allowed the US to establish “the fairest recovery on record” since the Covid-19 pandemic wiped away millions of jobs.

“None of these policies are aiming to recreate an earlier era. This country and the world have changed and we cannot go back,” she said.

“President Joe Biden's economic policies have done more to support workers than former president Donald Trump.”

Ms Yellen also took aim at Mr Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, saying it did little to help workers.

In his own campaign, Mr Trump has said he would enact tariffs at up to 10 per cent on most foreign goods to spur domestic production. In previous remarks, Ms Yellen said the plan would only increase costs for US consumers.

He has also said he would “adopt a four-year plan to phase out all Chinese imports of essential goods”, including on electronics, steel and pharmaceuticals.

Strong data, wary voters

During her remarks, Ms Yellen was also quick to acknowledge that the economy had proved many forecasters wrong in their recession predictions.

The US economy grew 2.5 per cent last year, far better than expectations, while the same report showed core inflation averaged 2 per cent from October to December.

Consumer sentiment has also increased by 29 per cent over the past two months, according to a University of Michigan survey.

That has not translated to favourable polling for Mr Biden, however.

Nearly two thirds of US adults disapproved of Mr Biden's handling of the economy, according to an AP-NORC poll from December.

“I think if inflation remains low, the labour market remains strong … I think you'll see sentiment improving,” Ms Yellen said.

Updated: January 25, 2024, 8:41 PM