In the coming weeks, Biden will travel more within the country and continue to emphasize that the invasion of Russia is not a distant crisis but one with profound economic implications for the United States.
“Voters, as sympathetic as they are to Ukraine, are getting a little tired,” said Celinda Lake, a veteran pollster with the Democratic Party. “And they ask themselves: We spend all that money abroad, but what are we spending here at home?”
Lake said it’s imperative that the president spend the remaining seven months before the midterms explaining his record and promising to do more. “Half the voters,” she suggested, still don’t know what Biden has accomplished so far.
“They don’t know what’s in the infrastructure package. They don’t know the full extent of the bailout. You don’t know the executive orders he issued on inflation,” she said, referring to the coronavirus stimulus money sent to states and the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild roads, bridges and more .
The scope of Biden’s presidency will be affected by Democrats’ ability to retain control of at least one, if not both, houses of Congress this November. And the White House knows it must both highlight Biden’s accomplishments and show Americans it’s trying to do more, even on the fringes.
The war in Europe will continue to dominate Biden’s time, but his aides don’t want him to take his full attention. In fact, some of Biden’s advisers believe they only have to look across the Atlantic to find a red flag for a president who is too focused on global diplomacy and not enough on domestic pocketbook issues. Many French voters believe that French President Emmanuel Macron has prioritized trying to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin and neglected domestic issues, leading to tight polls ahead of the presidential runoff later this month.
As the White House seeks to refocus on domestic issues, it is seeking quicker and more concrete action to address issues on the kitchen table, namely inflation. This month, Biden issued executive orders allowing the use of an ethanol blend this summer to bring down gas prices and kick-start a new regulation that fixes the Affordable Care Act’s so-called family flaw that would reduce health insurance costs for millions. And late last week, the government announced plans to resume selling oil and gas well leases on federal land.
After going overseas to address the conflict in Ukraine, Biden boarded Air Force One for the first time in weeks to promote the steps he has taken to combat inflation and the economic fallout of this war . Last week he traveled to Iowa to promote efforts to cut gas prices and to North Carolina to announce measures to ease supply chain shortages.
He also unveiled a final regulation to stem the rise in gun violence across the country, an event that came about a week after a mass shooting in Sacramento, California, and a day before a man opened fire on a Brooklyn subway and 10 injured, took place. Biden will be traveling again this week, visiting New Hampshire, Oregon and Washington to highlight new infrastructure projects and cost savings for families.
He is also expected to present an executive measure on police reform and make another attempt to pass a revised version of his Build Back Better proposal aimed at tackling climate change and reducing healthcare costs.
Aides want Biden to step out there to put forward these ideas and show he empathizes with Americans’ struggles. But its tools for actually dealing with soaring gas and food prices are somewhat limited. And on several other initiatives — including gun control, citizenship for immigrants brought to the United States as children, and voting rights — there appears to be no legislative path forward due to Republican opposition and Democratic resistance to changing the legislative filibuster.
Biden’s renewed emphasis on domestic politics comes against a sobering backdrop: his job approval ratings are poor and not improving. The president has received high marks from foreign policy experts, other world leaders and even some Republicans for his handling of the war in Europe, and unemployment is at its lowest level in more than 50 years. But inflation, while a global trend, has tainted Americans’ views of the economy and how to manage it.
Biden’s poll numbers among critical Democratic base voters are of particular concern to party officials. Last month, a Marist survey found that only 34 percent of Gen Z and Millennial voters approved of Biden’s job performance, and a Marquette Law School survey found that the percentage of black voters approving of Biden’s handling of the presidency has fallen 12 points since November.
“Some of the Democratic base blames Biden for Republican intractability,” Rep said. Emmanuel Splitter (D-Mo.). Black voters have criticized Biden for not being able to pass voting rights legislation, he said. “This has nothing to do with Biden’s interest and willingness to fight for the Voting Rights Act.” Cleaver surmised that Biden “probably had more meetings with Sen. [Joe] Manchin‘ — the Democratic senator most prominently standing in the way of filibuster reform — “when he did it to the First Lady.”
Passing a smaller version of Biden’s Build Back Better plan would be a big boost, Cleaver said. But selling what Democrats have already passed is equally imperative.
“I wish we could put up signs across the country, ‘Forgive our progress, we’re rebuilding the nation,'” Cleaver said, referring to funds going to states to fix crumbling bridges, waterways and broadband. “Most Democrats would love to see the President have more of a presence in the nation, but hopefully most Democrats, like me, are also fully aware of the fact that we have a crisis in Eastern Europe.”
Ultimately, Democratic lawmakers and pollsters believe the party’s medium-term fate will depend on voters’ views on its handling of the economy. More Biden trips to key swing states are needed, said Lake, who conducts regular focus groups with Democratic and inconsistent midterm voters. She advised Biden to share stories he told campaigning about his father’s unemployment, which forced his family to move. That message “gets lost when you rely on news from economic statistics, economic studies and data,” she added.
But previous efforts for Biden to move forward to advance his economic agenda have been thwarted by a need to respond to outside forces. And the current portfolio is also likely to be largely reactive, as aid workers expect a sharp rise in Covid cases and an increase in migrants on the southern border.
“While calling on the world against Vladimir Putin’s appalling invasion of Ukraine and inflicting unprecedented costs on Russia, the President has also taken further action on his economic agenda for America’s middle class,” said White House spokesman Andrew Bates. “The President also continues to work with a variety of lawmakers on a reconciliation plan that would reduce prescription drug, energy and childcare costs while further reducing the deficit and fighting long-term inflation, as well as a landmark bill on how we can compete with China to strengthen.”
If Democrats aren’t able to pass the rest of Biden’s economic proposals before November, their best — perhaps only — chance to retain some power in Congress is to refocus domestically and get voters away from it convince they helped the economy recover as the nation emerged from the worst of the pandemic.
“Democrats now have an overriding political communication priority — we need to convince voters that things are better because of our time in power,” said Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic activist who advises campaigns and party committees to ramp up now. “If by the summer people think things are better, we’ll be competitive this fall. If they don’t do it, we won’t do it.”
https://www.politico.com/news/2022/04/18/biden-domestic-policy-shift-00025862?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Biden was consumed by Ukraine. His team wants to bring the focus back home.