Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein sparred over the economy Tuesday ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
A recent poll conducted by ABC News/The Washington Post found four in 10 Americans say their financial situation has gotten worse since Biden took office. Forty-one percent of those polled said they are financially worse off now than they were prior to Biden taking office. The poll also found roughly six in 10 self-described Democratic adults do not want Biden to win the presidential nomination. Several other polls conducted throughout 2022 showed a general lack of approval in Biden’s handling of the economy.
“These polls … seem to show most Americans don’t agree the economy is doing as well as you say, and some of the numbers do validate,” Cavuto said. “What do you think is going on?” (RELATED: White House Sends Out Error-Laden Economy ‘Fact Sheet’ On Eve Of SOTU)
“I think there’s a lot of different polls you can pull from,” Bernstein said. “I think the numbers that we think are most important to characterizing this economy from the perspective of working families is how they’re doing. They’ve got real wage gains up over the past seven months. Twelve-point-one million jobs since this president got here. A manufacturing boom: 800,000 jobs, since Biden took office, in manufacturing.”
“You mentioned the 12 million new jobs,” Cavuto interjected. “When in fact, the Department of Labor Statistics said that those are actually added back jobs, the jobs that were taken away during COVID—”
“Yeah, that’s just factually wrong,” Bernstein cut in.
“Let me just pursue it,” Cavuto said. “The jobs created were more like 2.7 million. The same comes to manufacturing jobs. You talk about three quarters of a million more of them added on. A lot of them are just jobs that came back from what we had … that your gain is smaller than that.”
“Do you think you inflate the numbers?” he asked.
“I’m just not going to let you blow fog over what is clearly an absolutely stellar economic record, especially in the labor market,” Bernstein said.
“But they’re jobs that we had before that we got back post-COVID, right?” Cavuto pressed.
“Hold on, let me respond … Three-point-four percent unemployment. That’s [the] lowest in 53 years. It’s lower than expectations were for this time of year based on forecasts that were made by CBO [Congressional Budget Office]. So that’s responsive to your question. We are outperforming where people thought the economy would be,” Bernstein said, arguing the “long-term job gains … surpassed our pre-pandemic level.”
“You just don’t post those kinds of economic records unless your economy is doing something very right,” he continued. “I’m just not going to let you throw a fog of numbers out here to undermine that.”
Cavuto then asked whether Bernstein stands by Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen’s claim that there is no recession, nor are there recession fears based on recent economic reports. Bernstein once again listed several economic statistics, such as unemployment rates and recent job growth numbers, before the pair discussed the public’s perception of the economy.