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Correcting Janet Yellen

Here’s a letter, written by Phil Gramm and me, that will appear in the print edition of tomorrow’s (Friday’s) Wall Street Journal (link added on real weekly earnings; we converted the real-weekly-earnings figures from 1982-1984 dollars to 2023 dollars using this inflation adjuster):

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen writes that “wages have risen more than prices since 2019” to justify her claim that “our economic position reflects actions the Biden administration has taken over the past three years” (“Bidenomics Is Working for the Middle Class,” op-ed, Dec. 21).

The problem with this claim is that President Biden wasn’t in office a single day in 2019—or in 2020. From the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2020, with Donald Trump still in the White House, real weekly earnings rose by $69 (or 6.2%) and annual median income rose by $3,592. But from the beginning of the Biden administration to the third quarter of 2023, the last quarter for which we have data, real weekly earnings fell by more than $25 (or 2.1%), pushing real annual median income down by $1,306.

Maybe Bidenomics works only when Mr. Biden isn’t President.

Phil Gramm and Prof. Donald Boudreaux

American Enterprise Institute and George Mason U., Mercatus Center

Helotes, Texas, and Fairfax, Va.

Mr. Gramm was chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.