(Trends Wide) — President Joe Biden’s crisis leadership style is becoming quite familiar, and even a bit stale.
Whether it’s a grim twist in the coronavirus pandemic, another hurdle on his Congressional agenda, the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan, or the supply chain crisis strangling the economy, Biden’s public response tends to be similar, and this alienates him from ordinary Americans, whose support he needs for the approval of his agenda in Congress. Biden has fallen into the pattern of giving short, televised speeches from one of the White House state rooms or anywhere else in the presidential complex.
After his $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan and $ 3.5 trillion spending plan were not approved by Congress earlier this month, Biden vowed to travel the country to sell to Americans. his vision. He has made several recent trips: to Michigan to promote large-scale investment in the economy and to Illinois to push his spending plans and vaccination mandates, and he will go to Connecticut on Friday. But there is no sign of a coast-to-coast presidential tour or a relentless daily campaign of coordinated messaging to shake Democrats out of the schism around his agenda, which is raising questions about the party’s leadership ability.
While trying to convince two moderate Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to deal with frustrated progressives in the House of Representatives, the president hasn’t done what would help him the most: garner support. popular necessary to reach an agreement.
Biden’s lack of visibility worked better than anyone expected during the 2020 campaign, when he largely stuck to virtual and choreographed events during the first year of the covid-19 crisis. His appearances as a statesman were in contrast to the savage over-propagation rallies held by then-President Donald Trump, which were key to alienating moderate, independent and suburban voters who helped decide the election. Early in Biden’s presidency, the contrast to Trump and Biden’s restrained leadership produced a $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan to cap its first 100 days.
But with the economy struggling to get Americans back to their jobs after the delta variant fueled a virus outbreak, many are battling inflation, and their own approval ratings are declining after remaining consistently strong at first, it is. it’s fair to wonder if the president’s method is starting to run out.
Biden made it clear at all times that, after the tumult that Trump’s term represented, he wanted to restore the dignity of the office. Unlike Trump, he doesn’t feel the need to assault the American psyche 24 hours a day. If the spending bill and infrastructure package are finally passed, it will have two pillars of what could be an impressive national legacy. If the economy finally rids itself of the pandemic next year, its fortunes could increase.
But there is a growing sense of drift, especially on the legislative agenda, as progressives and moderate Democrats clashing over the composition of the spending plan appear no closer to reaching an agreement. If the stalemate extends well beyond the end of the year, it would hurt Democratic candidates, who need to present a solid record to voters in midterm elections, which are historically brutal for presidents in their first term.
And warnings from top lawmakers – and a new Trends Wide poll – suggest that, even after months of debate, many Americans don’t know what’s on Biden’s huge agenda for Congress.
“There is a communication problem and we keep trying to backtrack to, what are the elements that we are talking about?” Deputy Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the Progressive Assembly of Congress, said on Wednesday. In an appearance on Trends Wide’s “Newsroom” program, the Washington State Democrat listed measures such as universal child care, affordable housing, hearing and dental benefits for the elderly, and lowering the prices of prescription drugs. . “The moment you tell someone that’s what’s in it, they say, ‘Oh well, that would make a transformative difference to me,'” he said.
A new poll has bad news for Democrats
A new Trends Wide / SSRS poll released Wednesday revealed that only 25% of Americans believe their family would be better off with passage of Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion social spending bill and an infrastructure measure from US $ 1 trillion. 32% said they would be worse and 43% say they would be more or less the same. Most of the key groups in the Democratic coalition, including independent women, blacks, Latinos and those under 35, say they would not be affected by these bills.
Biden has played an intense behind-the-scenes role in trying to get Democrats to band together to finally pass hugely ambitious bills to reshape the economy and favor American workers. The bipartisan measure would fix roads, bridges and transportation systems. The broader proposal, opposed by the Republican Party and likely to be scaled down to appease moderate Democrats, would provide a universal preschool education program, improve home health care for sick and elderly Americans, add hearing coverage and dental to Medicare and transform the economy to fight global warming.
The White House often points out that key ingredients in Biden’s plan, such as expanding health care, overhauling infrastructure, and improving paid leave and access to college, are popular in their own right. But so far, the go big approach isn’t working.
“Most voters could not say what these bills contain,” said Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster and strategist, in “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
“It is not because they are dumb. It is not because they are lazy. It is because the Democrats have done a horrendous job communicating the bills.”
The difficulty Democrats have had in unraveling the purpose of the spending bill, especially, has focused the political fight in Washington on front-line costs. That has worked in favor of moderate Democratic senators like Manchin and Sinema.
It has also offered a way out for Republicans who have already started a mid-term election campaign based in part on Democrats running “socialist” spending out of control. That’s why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists it’s time for her party to focus on the content of the spending bill and not its dollar figure.
A ray of light for Biden
The confusion over the agenda revealed by the Trends Wide poll may also reflect the disinterest of voters in the weeks of internal disputes over the proposals. Some Democrats have blamed the media for focusing on the drama of the battle in Congress, pitting party factions against each other. However, the main media have spread a lot of information about the content of the bills. At some point, it is up to the political party to sell the bills it is trying to pass.
Although some observers were surprised by the audacity of Biden’s proposals once stacked, individual details were often touted in his 2020 campaign speeches and on his website. So you can argue that you built your presidency on your approval. But for their priorities to come through, presidents have to spend the capital they earned from the campaign and replenish it while in office, a much more difficult task.
So far this month, Biden made that trip to Michigan on October 5, visiting the district of vulnerable Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin. A subsequent visit to Illinois was primarily to promote vaccination mandates. He also addressed the benefits of his programs from the White House in televised events. For example, in a speech delivered Wednesday in response to the supply chain crisis that is driving inflation and hurting the economy, Biden said: “I am driving a one-generation investment in our infrastructure and our people with my infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better bill. “
“These bills would transform our ports, there are … billions of dollars for ports, roads, rail systems that urgently need to be improved and would get products faster and more efficiently from factories to store, home, “Biden said.
Biden is not the first president accused of falling short in sales work. Its former boss, President Barack Obama, faced similar criticism when he struggled to pass the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and Democrats in Congress took a heavy hit shortly thereafter. But in the years that followed, that law became more popular as Americans began to recognize the impact of the law on their lives. Many Democrats believe that something similar could happen with Biden’s, if his program passes, and that it will prove so popular that future Republican Congresses will have no choice but to stick with many of his proposals.
There is a notable bright spot for Biden in the Trends Wide poll. His approval rating is still 50%, higher than in some recent polls, after a harsh summer in which there was a chaotic pullout from Afghanistan and an impressive resurgence of the delta variant. This is not very good for a president heading into a midterm election year. But it is not disastrous, given the strong divisions in the country. And it suggests that the president has some political juice left to rally support for the plans that will define his legacy.