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GOP leader picks the wrong fight over what Biden ‘inherited’

If Republicans want to talk about the conditions that Joe Biden inherited, we can have that conversation, but the GOP might not like where it ends up.

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Sen. Steve Daines, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, delivered some prepared remarks on Capitol Hill this week, reflecting on the conditions President Joe Biden “inherited” three years ago. Of particular interest was the Montanan’s focus on the economy:

“[Biden] inherited record job growth, record job increases, record wage increases. He made it worse, working with Senate Democrats, unleashing a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in early ’23 at a time when we knew darn well this was going to create problems for this economy.”

It’s easy for someone to flub relevant details when speaking off the cuff, but in this instance, Danies was reading from a prepared script.

Part of the problem with the GOP leader’s pitch is that his factual details are plainly and demonstrably wrong. During Donald Trump’s first three years in the White House, job growth actually fell, and during his fourth year, the U.S. economy lost over 9 million jobs.

Biden didn’t inherit “record job increases”; he inherited the opposite. This isn’t a matter of opinion. It’s simply what happened.

As for the idea that the American Rescue Plan “created problems for this economy,” the Republican probably ought to know that, thanks to that Democratic legislation, United States is experiencing the world’s best post-pandemic recovery. In fact, it’s a recovery that’s led to the creation of over 15 million jobs since January 2021 — more than double the combined total of Trump’s first three years as president.

Again, none of this is subjective. It’s not a matter of perspective. I’m simply highlighting reality.

But the other part of Daines’ pitch that falls short is the degree to which it’s part of a larger effort: Republicans are eager to convince the public to disregard their memories of 2020.

In case anyone needs a refresher, Trump’s fourth year in office was unusually horrible for the United States. The Republican administration badly mishandled the federal response to a deadly pandemic. Millions of Americans lost their jobs — including the month before Biden’s inauguration, when the economy shed nearly a quarter of a million jobs — as part of a recession that began in February 2020. The national murder rate worsened, too.

The nation’s executive branch was led by a scandal-plagued amateur, who was unpopular and ineffective, and who lost his re-election bid by roughly 8 million votes in the popular vote.

At that point, Biden took office, Covid deaths declined; the unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since before the Moon landing; and the economy grew at a healthy pace.

If Republicans want to talk about the conditions that Joe Biden inherited, we can have that conversation, but the GOP might not like where it ends up.