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Biden touts economy during Chicago visit

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Visiting Chicago Wednesday, President Joe Biden discussed his economic plan amid high inflation, unemployment and other costs Illinoisans are facing. Republicans say Biden’s speech should have been an apology.

It was the president’s first visit to Chicago this year. Upon landing at O’Hare Airport, Biden met with Mayor Brandon Johnson and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Biden spoke to a group in a Chicago ballroom and discussed his “Bidenomics” economic plan, which he said is a three-part plan that aims to build the economy from the middle out and bottom up. The steps include a focus on investments and the middle class.

“First, making smart investments in America. Second, educating and empowering American workers to grow the middle class. And third, promoting competition to lower costs and help small businesses,” Biden said.

The president said his economic endeavors have been successful.

“Bidenonmics is working. When I took office, the pandemic was raging and our economy was reeling. Supply chains were broken. Millions of people unemployed. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses on the verge of closing after so many already closed,” Biden said. “Today, the U.S. has the highest economic growth rate, leading the world’s economies since the pandemic. The highest in the world.”

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, released a statement in support of the plan and said Biden had brought jobs to Illinois.

“A record-breaking 13 million new jobs were created under this president, including more than 443,000 in Illinois. Factories are reopening. Middle-class wages are going up,” Durbin said.

In contrast to the national jobs picture, a report by Wirepoints that looked at Illinois’ overall economic performance since 2019 shows 70,000 fewer jobs in that time frame and that the state’s real GDP growth was 3.2% from 2019 to 2022, which ranked 10th worst in the country.

Republican state lawmakers reacted to Biden’s address and said things are not going as well as the president would lead some to believe. State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, told The Center Square that the president should have used his time to apologize to the public.

“Joe Biden owes every Illinois resident an apology for the tremendous harm his policies have done to the economy. Thanks to Joe Biden, even the dollar stores have raised their prices,” Halbrook said. “Come July 1st, the Illinois sales tax on groceries will be reinstated, and the hard-working people in my district will again be reminded of how Biden’s economy only works for the elite and the politically connected.”

State Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, said Biden’s speech is a “bad joke.”

“If you like double digit inflation and historic debt, then ‘Bidenomics’ is great,” Marron told The Center Square. “For the rest of us, it’s a bad joke.”

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy released a statement and said Americans need relief.

“Illinoisans aren’t interested in watching Joe Biden, and J.B. Pritzker offer self-congratulatory pats on the back while their families struggle to put food on the table and keep the lights on in their small businesses,” Tracy said. “It’s time for Democrats to offer relief and real solutions to the issues Illinois families face, not more of the same tax-and-spend agenda that got us where we are today.”

Biden is seeking a second term for the 2024 presidential election.

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