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LARRY KUDLOW: Did the Bidens think that nobody in America would notice this balloon?

On the eve of President Biden’s State of the Union Address, which is tomorrow night, Joe Biden is trapped in two major untruths.  Both of them are attempts to cover up policy failures and a distinct lack of leadership in foreign policy and the economy.   

First up is the so-called Chinese weather balloon. I know it was an espionage mission and I also know that the CCP is about as truthful as Mr. Biden. The big lie here is that these spy balloon episodes happen all the time.   

According to Biden world, they happened at least three times during the Trump years. It’s just that we didn’t notice it.  Well, saying it so doesn’t make it so.   

A whole bunch of Trump foreign policy officials, by they way people who don’t often agree with each other or with their former boss for that matter, have all strongly denied that the Chinese spy balloons were dropping out of the sky in the past administration.  

CHARLOTTE, USA – FEBRUARY 4: Chinese spy balloon flies above in Charlotte NC, United States on February 04, 2023.  (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Count ’em up: Former National Security Advisers Robert O’Brien and John Bolton. There’s an unexpected couple.  Former National Intelligence Directors John Ratcliffe and Ric Grenell.  Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who didn’t like anybody in the Trump administration and former Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who has often been critical of his former boss. Add to that former VP National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg.   

All these folks were colleagues of mine, I know them well and I’ve never heard them agree with each other on any topic except for the Chinese balloon. So, Mr. Biden has a problem here, I should think so. I don’t know how they are going to get out of that.  We will speak to Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe in just a few moments about all this.  


Like everybody in America, I’m still dying to know why Biden didn’t shoot the balloon down when it first entered American airspace over Alaska where there aren’t any people on the ground or when it came across Montana, atop our nuclear anti-ballistic missile systems, where there’s maybe five people on the ground.  Did the Bidens think that nobody in America would notice this balloon?   

Were they really hoping nobody would notice so that Secretary of State Blinken could have his meeting with China?  Couldn’t they figure that the CCP may have deliberately scuttled the Blinken visit in order to test Mr. Biden? This is an old Chinese tactic and does Mr. Biden not understand how this diminishes America’s standing in the world?  What would happen if we started sending balloons over China? How long do you think they’d last in the high skies?   

Is this completely and totally unlike the catastrophic Biden exit from Afghanistan where, after leaving massive amounts of military hardware and thousands and thousands of American friends on the ground and running against his own military advisers, Biden later tried to tell the American public it was actually a great success?  Really?! Have the Chinese forgotten that?  Doubtful. 

Or the failed diplomacy on the eve of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine where Biden refused to take concrete actions, instead made idle economic threats and of course the Russians invaded anyway? Then the U.S. response was always a day late and a dollar short? 

Some commentators are calling this a decline in America. I don’t agree. What we have here is a major decline in the current American leadership.  Not just a decline, but huge failures on the public stage and that public stage includes America First citizens right here at home who don’t necessarily want to see the country involved in foreign wars, but surely don’t want to see the country pushed around by foreign dictators. 

Then we come home to the Biden economy where, yes of course, the president is basking in a strong jobs number out last Friday, but then he goes out and tells folks that rampant inflation was inherited from the Trump administration. Really?!   

The last Trump CPI report in January 2021 was 1.4%. Mr. Biden’s spending policies ran it up to over 9% in the following 18 months and, I must say, one jobs number does not make a story. For all of 2022, the U.S. economy grew by only 1% with an inflation rate of 6.3%. I’d call that a stagflationary slump.   

Mr. Biden brags somehow about a recovery in manufacturing. Well, the supply managers report for manufacturing is down 18% over the past 12 months.  Consumer spending fell in November and December overall. So did retail sales. So did industrial production. So did housing starts and sales and so did productivity.   

The soft underbelly of Biden’s inflationary policies, even though the Federal Reserve has made some progress in recent months, is a continuous decline in real worker wages. For example, from January 2021, when real wages were rising 3.9% year-on-year through January 23, the most recent data, real wages have fallen in all but 3 months and by roughly 1.5% overall. A typical family has lost $15 a week in real terms over this period. In other words, a big drop in purchasing power.  


President Joe Biden speaks

President Biden speaks to African leaders gathered for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, in Washington.  ((AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) / AP Newsroom)

 Finally, with a big hat tip to our friend Liz Peek, since January 2020, with a population increase of 7 million people, the number of employed persons has increased only 1.4 million over those 3 years. In other words, we seem to have lost 5.6 million people not working.    

She calls this “the Achilles heel” of Biden’s presidency and says low unemployment is no great victory if millions are choosing not to work, living off expanded government benefits that increasingly require no work requirements or job training. Will this appear in Mr. Biden’s State of the Union speech?  We report, you decide.   

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