You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

How on Earth Is Donald Trump Getting Credit for Joe Biden’s Economy?

Do you have any idea how many jobs have been created under Biden in swing states? Don’t worry, nobody does. But they’d better by November 5.

Joe Biden waves and smiles as he stands in front of several American flags and a large banner reading "INVESTING IN AMERICA."
Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Joe Biden touts job gains in Wisconsin on a recent campaign stop.

Joe Biden’s trip to Wisconsin last week would, in normal political times, have been a grand slam. He went to the very spot in Racine County where, in 2018, Donald Trump showed up literally holding a golden shovel, touting a new plant to be built by a Taiwanese electronics firm and promising 13,000 jobs. The next year, the firm—which had been granted nearly $30 million in tax breaks—backed out. Last week, Biden touted a new $3.3 billion Microsoft AI data center that is poised to create around 2,000 new permanent jobs—and 2,300 unionized construction jobs to build it.

The symbolism can’t get any better. Whether it moves the needle, it’s hard to say. One poll last week did show Biden up by six points in the state, but in the polling averages, Trump still holds a small lead.

But here’s another recent poll that’s far more alarming. Politico and Morning Consult asked respondents a series of questions about all the major economic legislation Biden has signed. Majorities know little or nothing at all about the infrastructure bill, the CHIPS act, the American Rescue Plan, and the Inflation Reduction Act. And get this: While 40 percent said Biden has done more than Trump on infrastructure, 37 percent said Trump had done more. In January, NBC found that Trump has a 22-point advantage over Biden on the question of whom voters trust more with the economy—up 15 points from the same poll in 2020.  

How can this possibly be? Fine, we know that most people pay scant attention to politics. But even scant attention should produce some knowledge. I pay scant attention to pop culture events aimed at people younger than I am, but even I know that Drake and Kendrick Lamar are fighting and that Kendrick appears to have public opinion on his side. Stuff seeps through.

It’s largely a media problem. The chunk of the country (and it’s a large chunk) for whom “the media” means Fox News, their local Sinclair affiliate, and maybe a right-wing talk radio station will never hear that Biden did anything good. Instead, they’ll often hear lies, or gross distortions of the truth, or pitiful excuses that lead them to draw false conclusions. 

Last Labor Day, for example, Biden gave a speech touting his infrastructure progress and mocking Trump’s failure to accomplish anything. As Steve Benen noted at the time, they had a ready-made explanation over at Fox. Brian Kilmeade said that Trump couldn’t pass infrastructure because every time he got close, “some other fake Russian lead would pop up and distract everybody.” Guest Marco Rubio agreed and placed added blame on the pandemic—which only began in the last year of Trump’s presidency—because “local authorities across the country were prohibiting people from working.”

As for the mainstream, “liberal” media, they’ll report on these things, but they’ll usually do so in a way that gives plenty of space to views from Republicans like Rubio. Read, for example, this Associated Press report on Biden’s Wisconsin visit. Its first half is largely positive toward Biden. But then it quotes RNC Chair Michael Whatley and the Wisconsin House Republican in whose district the event occurred and describes what Trump was up to that day. 

Yes, the AP, and all mainstream journalism, is supposed to be balanced. But it’s also supposed to be accurate. Whatley was quoted as saying, in part, that “manufacturing has stalled, and family farms are shuttering,” as if these things are Biden’s fault. Actually, manufacturing jobs are higher under Biden than Trump, which it took me about four seconds to ascertain. And while the family farm is in decline, it has been for many years: There are a lot of reasons for this, several of them centered around the lobbying power of corporate agribusiness.

As for the condition of daily life in Wisconsin, things are looking pretty good there overall. Yes, high inflation hit the state as it did every place, and groceries and gas cost more. There’s no getting around that, and while inflation was and is worse in the EU than it is here and very little of it is Biden’s fault, no one wants to hear that. 

But on almost all other economic fronts, things are looking up. The unemployment rate in the state is 3 percent. The labor force participation rate is three points higher than the national average. And the number of jobs created in the state since Biden took office, according to these Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, is 81,654. 

That’s good, but comparatively speaking, it’s a low number. I used the BLS chart to track job growth from January 2021 to March 2024 in the six key swing states. Here they are.

  • Arizona: 307,033
  • Georgia: 273,272
  • Michigan: 394,452
  • Nevada: 162,316
  • Pennsylvania: 349,398
  • Wisconsin: 81,654
  • Total: 1,568,124

Does anybody know these numbers? Of course not. The right-wing media isn’t going to tell people, and the mainstream media may or may not. It’s up to the White House and the Democrats to make sure people know by November 5.

Here are some more interesting Wisconsin numbers for you. Under the infrastructure bill, the state is seeing: $3.4 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects; $1.4 billion for high-speed internet; $800 million for safe drinking water and lead pipe replacement; $289 million for public transportation; $252 million for clean energy; $130 million for airports; and more.

Should Wisconsinites go vote for Joe Biden because of these things? I would make a strong case that they should. This is exactly what the federal government exists to do: build stuff that makes people’s lives better and improves local economies. Joe Biden made it happen. 

I know, it doesn’t work like that. He shuffles when he walks. Trump is a businessman who gets things done (yes, an astonishing percentage of Americans still believe this, and it’s almost impossible at this point to convince them otherwise). Maybe enough appearances around the country like last week’s to Racine County will get local news operations to pay attention to what’s actually happening in the states and make voters start to see the billions being invested in their behalf—and that Biden, not Trump, is the one who did it.