Thu. May 30th, 2024

Credit for lower food, travel prices

By Sampad May1,2024

U.S. President Joe Biden pardons the National Thanksgiving turkeys Liberty and Bell during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on November 20, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Win Mcnamee | Getty Images

Gathering around the Thanksgiving table will cost Americans less this Thursday than it did last year, and Democrats hope they’ll spare a word of gratitude for President Joe Biden.

Prices on key holiday expenses, including Thanksgiving dinner staples, airfare and gasoline have fallen in the past 12 months, according to multiple government surveys and other data.

Now the Biden administration, whose approval ratings have been weighed down by widespread economic pessimism and persistently high inflation, wants credit for those falling costs.

“Ahead of the holiday season, costs are down for everything from airline tickets and car rentals to toys and TVs,” the White House wrote Tuesday on X. “The Biden-Harris Administration is working every day to create more breathing room for hardworking families.”

This year’s Thanksgiving dinner “is the fourth-cheapest ever, as a percentage of average earnings” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

But whether voters will give Biden credit for the fact that some products and services are cheaper today than a year ago is far from certain.

That’s because prices for staples are still higher overall than they were before the pandemic, and overall prices for food at home were up year-over-year last month.

Jean-Pierre pinned inflation on the Covid-19 pandemic supply chain disruptions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both of which have contributed to higher prices on certain goods. But economists say that at least some of the blame also belongs to the massive $1.9 trillion spending bill Biden signed last year.

Nonetheless, the White House is taking a victory lap for the lower year-over-year prices, eager to credit Biden’s economic agenda, dubbed Bidenomics, for the good news as the president runs for reelection.

But it remains to be seen whether Biden’s message will pierce the veil of economic discontentment shrouding millions of Americans — even those who are spending as if the economy were booming — according to reporting from The New York Times.

A Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people will cost an average of $61.17 this year, down 4.5% from last year’s record-high of $64.05, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

That’s due in large part to a 5.6% year-over-year decrease in the average price of a frozen whole 16-pound turkey. Prices for smaller items like fresh cranberries and heavy cream saw even larger declines.

Still, the Farm Bureau said the average overall cost of the holiday meal this year is still 25% higher than it was before the pandemic.

Food isn’t the only Thanksgiving expense that’s cheaper this year than last, however.

Gas prices have fallen markedly since September, and the average national price of regular gas was $3.28 a gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA. This could be the lowest price for a Thanksgiving week since 2020, when the Covid pandemic cut demand for travel.

Airfares in October were also down more than 13% from this point last year, according to the Department of Labor’s latest U.S. inflation report.

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Yet none of this has quieted Biden’s critics, who blame the Democrat’s spending bills and his regulatory agenda for inflation.

“We’re going to reverse Bidenomics, all the rules, regulations, executive orders, so we can lower prices and lower interest rates,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 Republican primary contender, in a Fox News interview this week. “We need to lower people’s gas prices, lower energy costs.”

Less than a year out from Election Day, Biden’s original plan to campaign on his economic agenda is flashing warning signs.

The president’s job approval rating hit its lowest-ever point in the latest national NBC News survey, released last Sunday. A poll by The New York Times and Siena College released the week before NBC’s found former President Donald Trump leading Biden in a hypothetical matchup in several key swing states.

An October poll from Bloomberg News and Morning Consult, meanwhile, found that 65% of voters who ranked the economy as their top issue disapproved of Biden’s economic agenda, while only 14% approved.

By Sampad

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