On Friday, President Biden spoke briefly with reporters in South Lake Tahoe, California, and gave his reaction to the first Republican presidential debate. "There was a lot of talk. But what are they going to do to deal with economic growth?" Biden said, according to a pool report of the event.
Steve Forbes, who ran for president in 1996 using the slogan "Hope, Growth, and Opportunity," couldn't have put it any better. Search the word "growth" in the debate transcript and you get one reference from Asa Hutchinson talking about his ability to constrain the growth of the federal government, and a passing mention from Vice President Pence ("I will put our nation back on the path to growth and prosperity and restore fiscal responsibility.") That's it. Not even Nikki Haley, who overperformed expectations in the debate, not Vivek Ramaswamy, not Governor DeSantis—the rest of the crew weren't talking growth, and no one was going into any detail about what growth would mean and how it could be achieved, along the lines, say, that the George W. Bush Presidential Center's 4% Growth Project sketched in 2011 under the leadership of Amity Shlaes.
It's not that the Biden administration has exactly covered itself with glory on the economic growth front. If anything, its results have been disappointing. That's all the more reason for Republicans to talk to the electorate about how they would do better. There's plenty of time between now and the next debate for some of these candidates to trained up by Shlaes or Forbes or some of the other pro-growth voices—Glenn Hubbard, David Malpass, Larry Kudlow. If Biden wants a presidential election about economic growth, the Republicans better be prepared to talk about it. Otherwise it won't just be Biden, but a lot of voters, who notice the omission.