IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Economic assessments continue to put Biden administration’s credibility on the line

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Joe Biden
Joe Biden delivers remarks at the former location of the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Mass., on July 20, 2022.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON —   If it’s Tuesday… President Biden meets virtually at 2:00 pm ET to discuss Korean conglomerate’s investment in American manufacturing… Donald Trump, in DC, addresses America First summit at 3:00 pm ET… NBC’s Lester Holt interviews Attorney General Merrick Garland… Dem Josh Shapiro releases new TV ad hitting Republican Doug Mastriano in PA-GOV… And DCCC goes up on the air in MI-3 to boost Trump-backed candidate running against GOP Peter Meijer (who voted to impeach Trump).

But FIRST… President Biden on Monday said Americans shouldn’t be worried about a recession. 

“We’re not going to be in a recession in my view,” he stated, adding: “The employment rate is still one of the lowest we’ve had in history. It’s in the 3.6 [%] area. We still find ourselves with people investing… We’ll see some coming down. But I don’t think we’re going to, God willing, I don’t think we’re gonna see a recession.”

Yet Biden also said — almost a year ago to this day — that Americans shouldn’t be worried about inflation, calling rising prices “temporary” and “transitory.” (Many of his top advisers, including his Treasury secretary, echoed that assessment for months.)

“Some folks have raised worries that this could be a sign of persistent inflation. But that’s not our view. Our experts believe and the data shows that most of the price increases we’ve seen are — were expected and expected to be temporary,” the president said on July 19, 2021

Look at how that turned out. 

And it all underscores one of Biden’s biggest challenges on the economy: credibility. 

Yes, there are plenty of positive signs about the U.S. economy. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being added each month. The unemployment rate is below 4.0%. Even gas prices are beginning to fall from their high of $5.00 a gallon. 

But there are plenty of other troubling signs — consumer confidence has declined, inflation is the highest it's been in 40 years and there are real concerns that higher interest rates (intended to stop the inflation) could drag down the economy. 

So when the Biden White House says, essentially, “Trust us, guys, a recession isn’t happening” — we also remember what they were saying a year ago. 

Tweet of the Day

 Data Download: The number of the day is … $16 million

That’s the ad-spending advantage that Democratic gubernatorial nominees have over their GOP opponents in competitive races (per The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter), $17 million to $1 million. 

The most pronounced spending edge is in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro has spent more than $8.5 million on TV, radio and digital ads since the primary. Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano has spent about $40,000 on only digital ads, per AdImpact. 

It’s a trend we’ve noted on the Senate side too — one that isn’t necessarily the end-all, be-all, especially in July, but shows how the Democratic fundraising dominance has played out on the airwaves. 

Other numbers to know:

3: How many days after voting against same-sex marriage protections Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., attended his gay son’s wedding.

2: The number of senators who announced Monday they tested positive for Covid — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. 

6: How many House staffers were arrested in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office while protesting over climate talks, per NBC’s Capitol Hill team.

$10,000: How much each House member could receive to secure their homes as part of a new “residential security program” through the House Sergeant at Arms, per NBC News’ Haley Talbot. 

$13 million: How much billionaire Peter Thiel has spent to fund a super PAC supporting Republican senate candidate Blake Masters in Arizona.

Midterm roundup: Michigan meddling

Democrats are once again elevating a pro-Trump primary candidate, this time launching a TV ad in Michigan’s 3rd District painting Republican John Gibbs as “too conservative” in his race against GOP Rep. Peter Meijer — a message that could endear Gibbs to GOP voters ahead of next week’s primary. 

Despite being Trump’s preferred candidate, Gibbs has struggled to fundraise against Meijer, who was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Meijer’s campaign has vastly outspent Gibbs on the airwaves, per AdImpact, but the DCCC buy is making up the difference. Its independent expenditure arm putting $425,000 behind the Gibbs ad in the Grand Rapids media market, per a DCCC spokesperson. 

Meijer’s campaign responded by telling Axios that the ad is a sign that “Democrats don’t want to face Peter Meijer in the November election.” Biden would have won the new 3rd District by 8 percentage points, per Inside Elections, making the district a top target. 

Some Republicans have rallied around Meijer. The New York Times reports that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s PAC contributed $10,000 to Meijer’s campaign. And the Chamber of Commerce launched a new ad Monday boosting Meijer.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail…

Arizona Senate: Republican Blake Masters’ campaign spent $191,000 on a new TV buy starting Tuesday and running through Aug. 1, the day before the Senate primary, per AdImpact.

Georgia Senate: Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is up with a new ad attacking Republican Herschel Walker by calling on him to “stop dodging” and “commit to debates.” 

Missouri Senate: While most attention has been on the GOP primary here, the Democratic contest is getting chippy, too. Trudy Busch Valentine is up with a new spot saying that her rival, Lucas Kunce, “sounded like a Republican” when he ran last cycle, days after Kunce launched a spot that said Busch Valentine participated in a secret society “rooted in white supremacy.” 

Wisconsin Senate: Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes launched his closing ad ahead of the Aug. 9 Senate primary. 

Michigan governor: Politico profiles the “GOP’s messiest primary,” where Republicans are looking to find a candidate to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.  

Arizona-2: Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran told “Meet the Press Now” that he has a path to victory in his Trump district. The former president endorsed businessman Eli Crane on Friday in the GOP primary to take on O’Halleran.

Michigan-11: EMILY’s List’s independent expenditure arm Women Vote! reserved $1 million worth of airtime likely boosting Haley Stevens against fellow Democratic Rep. Andy Levin, per AdImpact. 

New York-12: The race between Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney is heating up ahead of the Aug. 23 primary. Nadler placed his first TV buy of the race starting Tuesday, spending $46,000 on cable, per AdIMpact. And Maloney launched a new TV ad focused on abortion where she also says, “You cannot send a man to do a woman’s job.”

New York-17: Politico reports that Democratic state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi trails Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in internal polling from both campaigns, but by significantly different margins

Virginia-2: Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, is up with a new spot highlighting her work on the committee, featuring the narration: “The only thing more horrific than what happened is how much they want to cover it up.” 

Ad watch: Shapiro’s “frightening preview”

Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro is out with a new ad blasting his Republican opponent for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, for vowing to overturn elections.

In the ad, a narrator tells viewers, “In the state legislature, Mastriano introduced a bill to overturn the election results and declare Trump the winner.” 

The narrator adds, “Mastriano doesn’t care about your vote. He wants to pick the winner, a frightening preview of how he’d run Pennsylvania as governor.”

This is the latest in a string of ads funded by Shapiro that call Mastriano dangerous. Others have highlighted Mastriano’s  positions on abortion and gay marriage.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

President Biden’s Covid symptoms have almost subsided, the White House physician said on Monday. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short appeared last week in front of a grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.

The Associated Press is out with a new retrospective on how its reporter broke the existence of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, where Black men were left untreated for the disease for as long as 40 years.