Boosting the brand? Biden kicks off reelection message in Chicago with embrace of ‘Bidenomics’ tag

“We’ve added over 13 million jobs, more jobs in two years than any president has added in a four-year term. And folks, that’s no accident. That’s Bidenomics in action,” Biden told a crowd gathered Wednesday in the lobby of the Old Post Office.

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President Joe Biden delivers a speech at The Old Post Office on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden delivers a speech Wednesday at the Old Post Office.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

President Joe Biden on Wednesday used Chicago to kick off an economic pitch dubbed “Bidenomics” — banking on an improving economy more than a year out from Election Day.

“Today, the U.S. has had the highest economic growth among the world’s leading economies since the pandemic. We’ve added over 13 million jobs, more jobs in two years than any president has added in a four-year term. And folks, that’s no accident.

“That’s Bidenomics in action,” Biden said in a 37-minute speech in the Old Post Office’s lobby.

Biden said his economic vision “grows the economy from the middle out and the bottom up instead of just the top down.”

“When that happens, everybody does well. The wealthy still do. Everybody does well,” Biden said. “The poor have a ladder up, and the wealthy still do well. We all do well.”

Originally intended as a criticism of the president’s economic plan, the term “Bidenomics” originated with the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. And while Biden made it clear on Wednesday that he didn’t come up with the moniker, he did everything he could to turn it into a positive, including standing amid blue banners touting “Bidenomics” and what he considers its pillars.

“I think it’s a plan that I’ll — I’m happy to call it ‘Bidenomics,’” Biden said to applause. “And guess what? Bidenomics is working.”

The president said his plan includes “smart investments” in America, educating and empowering workers to grow the middle class and promoting competition to lower costs and help small businesses.

President Joe Biden delivers a speech at The Old Post Office on Wednesday, surrounded by “Bidenomics” banners.

President Joe Biden delivers a speech Wednesday at the Old Post Office, surrounded by “Bidenomics” banners.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

White House advisers said the Chicago speech would kick off the president’s messaging for weeks to come, with Biden taking on GOP critics by calling out “those who want to drag our country backward by returning to the failed trickle-down policies of the past.”

Biden’s plan is to show that his economic policies are working — largely with the passage of four key measures: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the American Rescue Plan, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This is the moment we’re finally going to make a break and move away from an economy that has existed in a fundamentally different direction,” Biden said of 40 years of “trickle-down economics.”

Biden also said he’s “determined to keep fighting” for universal pre-kindergarten and free community colleges, while also trying to lower the cost of child care. The president said “the next phase” is making the tax code “fair for everyone,” without raising taxes on the middle class.

As Republicans continue to criticize Biden over the cost of such everyday needs as health care, gas and groceries, the president said with the laws he’s touting, “it takes time to get it out in the field” but “we’re moving in the direction where we can get some more done and people will see it.”

“I’m not here to declare victory on the economy. I’m here to say we have a plan that’s turning things around incredibly quickly,” Biden said. “But we have more work to do.”

Before the president’s address, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Brandon Johnson, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis touted Biden’s accomplishments.

“There’s no place more aligned with your vision than the city of Chicago,” Johnson said. “It’s the vision that speaks to the very soul of the city.”

Mayor Brandon Johnson speaks at The Old Post Office on Wednesday.

“There’s no place more aligned with your vision than the city of Chicago,” Mayor Brandon Johnson told the president Wednesday at the Old Post Office.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

After the speech, Biden headed to two fundraisers at the J.W. Marriott Hotel — the first hosted by Pritzker and Illinois first lady M.K. Pritzker. The president spoke to about 220 donors crowded in the Grand Ballroom, including Durbin, Duckworth, U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, Pritzker, Johnson and former Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Biden received two standing ovations during his remarks, the first for a push to codify Roe V. Wade, and another for his call for a federal assault weapons ban. The president said the suggestion made in the Dobbs decision that abortion rights are a matter for states and that supporters will have to push for their agenda has emboldened supporters.

He added in a whisper to cheers: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

President Joe Biden speaks at The Old Post Office on Wednesday.

President Biden said his economic vision “grows the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, instead of just the top down.”

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

He told donors, “We need you. Our democracy needs you. This is about our freedoms.”

The second event, also at the hotel, was organized by a group of trial lawyers: Joe Power, Robert Clifford, Kevin Conway, Larry Rogers Jr. and Pat Salvi, whose brother and sister-in-law, Al and Kathy Salvi, have lost a series of Republican bids for office. White House pool reporters were not allowed into the second fundraiser.

En route to Chicago, Biden was asked by a reporter whether the worst of inflation is over.

“Let me put it this way: I’ve been hearing every month there’s going to be a recession next month. The consensus is: Two-thirds of the economists and the major leaders in the banks think we’re not going to have a recession,” Biden said, according to a pool report. “I don’t think we will either.”

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