Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.

Great River Energy generously supports MinnPost's D.C. Memo. Learn why.

D.C. Memo: Bidenomics, ‘legacy’ admissions in Minnesota colleges and cocaine at the White House

The dueling messaging over the economy is expected to intensify as the political support of American’s middle class in the presidential election is at stake.

President Joe Biden delivering remarks on the U.S. economy during his visit to West Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday.
President Joe Biden delivering remarks on the U.S. economy during his visit to West Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON — With Congress on recess and Americans celebrating the nation’s birthday this week, President Biden and members of his Cabinet fanned across the country to tout “Bidenomics,” a term that had been used derisively by the president’s GOP detractors.

“I didn’t come up with that name, I really didn’t,” the president said.

To the GOP, Bidenomics means out of control inflation and government spending and regulations.

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th District, the House Majority Whip, is among those mocking Biden’s messaging on the economy this week.

Article continues after advertisement

“We know everything we need to know about Bidenomics,” Emmer tweeted.

“Only 34% of Americans approve of President Biden’s economic policies and since the President took office, the average worker has lost over $4,900 in real wages. The American people see through this insulting PR stunt.”

Emmer was referring to a recent Associated Press/NORC Public Affairs Research poll that determined that only 34% of U.S. adults approve of how Biden has handled the economy, which likely prompted the White House to pivot towards the economy this week.  Americans gave the president higher marks on foreign policy and health care, but the president’s overall approval rating remained stuck at about 41%.

To Biden and his supporters, Bidenomics is the opposite of the Republican economic philosophy that favors broad tax cuts to spur growth. Biden seeks to use the tax code in a more targeted fashion and to encourage investments in new technologies that would create jobs and foster competition to tamp down inflation.

The dueling messaging over the economy is expected to intensify as the political support of American’s middle class in the presidential election is at stake.

So, Biden and his surrogates brag about an economy that has rebounded from the pandemic more quickly than the rest of the developed world, billions of dollars in government spending on domestic manufacturing jobs, dropping inflation rates from a high of about 9% to about 3.7% and a rebounding stock market.

National employment growth has averaged 314,000 jobs per month this year. Minnesota’s unemployment rate remains among the nation’s lowest, 2.9% in May.

Still, there’s plenty of reason for middle class angst about the economy.

The post-pandemic’s surge in inflation and the Federal Reserve’s reaction to it, a sharp and very quick increase in interest rates, has resulted in higher prices for housing, food automobiles, energy and most everything else, including borrowing money on a credit card, for a mortgage or a car loan.

Article continues after advertisement

According to data compiled by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, more than $2 trillion in wealth held by the middle class has disappeared since the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates.

‘Legacy’ college admissions scrutinized following SCOTUS decision on race

The Supreme Court’s decision that consideration of an applicant’s race in college admissions is unconstitutional provoked a swift response from a coalition of civil rights groups. They filed a federal civil rights complaint against Harvard College this week challenging its practice of giving preferential treatment in its admissions process to applicants with family ties to wealthy donors and alumni, so-called “legacy admissions.”

The groups maintain if consideration of race is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, then these admissions are, too.

The groups, represented by Lawyers for Civil Rights, say for the class of 2019, about 28% of Harvard’s new students were legacies with a parent or other relative who attended Harvard. The alumni were overwhelmingly white and other highly deserving applicants of color were harmed as a result of the preference given the legacy students, the complaint said.

Several Minnesota schools also consider family ties in admissions. According to College Transitions, a company that helps students enroll in the colleges of their choice, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, St. Paul’s Macalester College and St. Olaf in Northfield all have policies that consider legacy status. So does Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

The University of Minnesota said legacy status is only one factor in its “holistic” approach to admissions.

“Among the 10 context factors, one that students may choose to share is ‘family employment or attendance at the University of Minnesota,’” the university said. “This information is considered holistically along with other context factors to understand a student’s academic preparedness, experiences, and their likelihood of success. Through this process, there is no one deciding factor for admission to the University of Minnesota.”

The civil rights complaint calls on the Department of Education to launch an investigation into Harvard’s practices that could eventually affect all schools with legacy policies.

Article continues after advertisement

“This preferential treatment overwhelmingly goes to white applicants and harms efforts to diversify. Particularly in light of last week’s decision from the Supreme Court, it is imperative that the federal government act now to eliminate this unfair barrier that systematically disadvantages students of color,” said Michael Kippins, and attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights, of Harvard’s admission policy.

This and that

Perhaps the most bizarre incident this week was the discovery of white powder, which turned out to be cocaine, in a room in the West Wing of the White House.

President Biden was at the presidential Camp David retreat at the time of the discovery.

Politico reported that the culprit is unlikely to be found. Citing “one official familiar with the investigation,” Politico said the source of the drug was unlikely to be determined given that it was discovered in a highly trafficked area of the West Wing.

The small amount of cocaine was found in a cubby area for storing electronics within the West Executive Office Building basement entryway into the West Wing, where many people have authorized access, including staff or visitors coming in for West Wing tours, Politico reported.

Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is readying for her role in next week’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game, where members of Congress and the D.C. press corps battle it out to raise funds and awareness for young women with breast cancer. Klobuchar, a cancer survivor, won’t be on the field, however. Her role will be as an announcer. And this member of the press corps will be likely watching from the stands.