February 21, 2024

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the U.S. economy and his administration’s effort to revive American manufacturing, during his visit in Flex LTD, in West Columbia, South Carolina, July 6, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The White House took aim at former President Donald Trump after the Republican presidential candidate front-runner said he hoped the economy would crash this year rather than during his theoretical second term.

“A commander in chief’s duty is to always put the American people first; never to hope that hard-working families suffer economic pain for their own political benefit,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement Tuesday.

In an interview that aired Monday on the right-wing video platform Lindell TV, Trump said, “When there’s a crash, I hope it’s going to be during this next 12 months because I don’t want to be Herbert Hoover.”

Within the first year of Hoover’s presidency in 1929, the U.S. stock market experienced a devastating crash that evolved into the Great Depression, the longest and most scarring economic decline in American history. The depression spanned all of Hoover’s presidency, staining his legacy with the wounds of the recession. For example, homeless encampments that sprawled during the Great Depression came to be known as Hoovervilles.

Economists have forecast economic slowing in 2024, but consensus has not gone so far as to cry recession. Last year, recession predictions stoked fear among the public but never came to fruition. A recession is often defined as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product, or GDP, and employment and production data may show signals.

Though a full-blown recession did not take shape in 2023, the economy did experience strain that was visible in waves of layoffs and record inflation. Over the past couple of months, data has shown promising signs of recovery.

“Republican officials should welcome the economic progress President Biden is delivering, instead of revealing twisted true colors that would shrink the American middle class in the name of their own cynical self-interests,” Bates said.

The White House used Trump’s comment as an opportunity to tout Biden’s economic wins and to draw contrasts with the previous administration.

“Consumer sentiment is surging and inflation is falling,” said Bates. “All the more reason to continue Bidenomics’ historically successful economic growth, job creation, and cost reduction momentum over the volatility of MAGAnomics – which economists warn would worsen inflation with tax giveaways to rich special interests.”

2023 turned out to be a good year with surprisingly high levels of consumer spending despite inflation-squeezed wallets and a resilient labor market. In December, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced record gains.

Biden’s economy, though, has been a pain point in his reelection campaign so far. Despite increasingly optimistic consumer confidence and signs of cooling inflation recently, consumers still have not seen those wins translate to lower living costs and they blame Biden for the sticky high prices.

Trump has taken advantage of Biden’s struggling economic narrative on the campaign trail, reminiscing on what he claims was a golden economy under his administration. Under Trump, the economy expanded for several years but the stock market ultimately came crashing down in 2020 at the advent of the pandemic while Trump was still in office.