America

High Borrowing Costs Have Some Democrats Urging Biden to Pressure the Fed

Sky-high mortgage rates and other elevated borrowing costs are pinching American consumers ahead of the 2024 election, threatening President Biden’s chances at a second term.

Yet so far, Mr. Biden has not called on the Federal Reserve, which has raised interest rates to their highest levels in more than two decades, to slash those costs.

The White House has repeatedly cited the Fed’s independence as the reason that Mr. Biden will not push the Fed to cut interest rates. But some Democrats are now urging the president to jettison that approach. That is because the central bank, which was expected to cut rates early in 2024, is now unlikely to start reducing them anytime soon.

The reason is that the Fed’s efforts to tame inflation have recently stalled and price gains are proving stickier than expected. That means interest rates could remain at the current level of 5.3 percent for a while: Investors now expect the first rate cuts to come later in the year, perhaps in September.

As higher rates weigh on voter sentiment, some Democratic strategists say it is time for Mr. Biden to emulate former President Donald J. Trump, who routinely browbeat the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, to lower rates.

Mr. Biden’s team should “seriously consider making a public spectacle out of it, the way Trump did,” said Evan Roth Smith, the lead pollster at the Democratic group Blueprint. His latest survey shows that nearly two-thirds of voters are worried that rates will stay high if Mr. Biden wins re-election, suggesting that the president risks paying a political price for borrowing costs that are largely out of his control.

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