WASHINGTON (AP) – Joe Biden’s presidency is entering a new and more dangerous phase, where he is almost certain to face stiffer Republican opposition and also has difficulty keeping Democrats united as he pushes for $ 4 trillion in additional spending. programs that echo the new Part and the large community.
After the 100-day mark, with positive approval ratings and a far-reaching, nearly $ 2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to show for it, Biden now faces far more uncertain terrain. The president is fighting against the calendar and ruling with the thinnest majority on Capitol Hill, knowing that the party holding the White House will historically lose seats in by-elections, which would cost Democrats control of Congress after the 2022 vote.
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Overall, his approach is less about stimulating the economy than stabilizing it in the long run with middle-class work and proving that a democracy, even a bitterly divided one, is still capable of doing great things.
“In another era where our democracy was being tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us: In America, we do our part,” Biden said in his speech to Congress. Wednesday evening. “That’s all I ask. That we all do our part. And if we do, then we meet the central challenge of the age by proving that democracy is sustainable and strong. ”
Biden has made personal commitments to Republicans in Congress, but efforts have been at least as directed at Republican voters who have been far more supportive of his plans. A nod to the double party is also important to reassure moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia that the president is at least trying to win the Republicans, even though in the end he might be pushing forward without them.
His task may be easier given the hopeful signs of a strong economic recovery. with an annual growth rate of 6.4% in the first three months of the year. With the help proposal adopted, Biden’s economic team is now able to focus on structural issues such as income inequality, systemic racism and deficits in public investment.
“These were ideas that sprouted before the pandemic,” said Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “It feels like these are things that we have known we should do.”
More helpers are now focused on distributing billions of dollars from the aid package for housing assistance, school upgrades and state and local state aid.
The administration also wants to measure the results of spending to show Congress that its aid programs are succeeding.
An example: The extended tax deduction for children is crucial because Biden has proposed extending the one-year increase through 2025 as part of his families’ plan.
“We know that implementing the improved tax deduction for children is crucial not only to reduce child poverty, but to show that it can be done well so that it builds support to expand it further,” said Gene Sperling, named by Biden to monitor the utilities.
With such expensive and far-reaching programs, Biden has not failed to compare his own ambitious legislative agenda with those advocated by a few of his Democratic predecessors, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. When the $ 1.9 trillion COVID bill was passed in March, Biden gathered with Harris and a couple of senior employees in the Roosevelt room to see the vote.
Biden recalled that it was in this room that he and President Barack Obama, as vice president, saw the final passage of the Affordable Care Act about 11 years earlier. But he remembered that room was full of people, something impossible to do during the pandemic.
“If we did not have COVID, we would probably all lift a glass together, but instead this is what we do,” Biden said, according to two White House officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about private moments.
The significance was clear: even in a moment of triumph, the pandemic was always present. But now that virus cases are falling and vaccinations are spreading, Biden must guide the nation toward reopening from COVID-19 lockdowns.
He took a cautious step Tuesday by highlighting changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the use of outdoor masks. Several basic steps are forward as Biden seeks to guide the country towards resuming normal activities, reopening offices and schools fully and fully meeting the exalted demand for travel, dining and entertainment.
To this point, the public has largely come together. A Gallup poll shows that Biden’s average approval rating during his first three months in office is 56%, higher than Donald Trump’s 41%, but slightly lower than Obama’s 63%.
But Biden does less well on some specific topics like immigration and the border. West Wing officials were caught off guard by the increase in the number of migrants, many of those children who stream across the border between the United States and Mexico create a humanitarian upheaval and give Republicans a political hug.
“The border and immigration have been a huge challenge, and it will continue to be within the next 100 days and beyond,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama. “The president’s desire to confront issues such as gun violence and the right to vote may continue to exceed the capacity allowed by a denied Senate majority, which could anger his progressive base.”
Biden has advised the patience of some of the left wing and stressed the importance of sequencing the legislation, prioritizing the infrastructure plan before addressing more difficult issues such as immigration, the right to vote, cannons and police work. The president flashed through executive actions on these issues, but will likely need cooperation with Congress for any meaningful action.
It will not be easy. Senate Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky mocked Biden’s agenda as a “multi-million dollar shopping list neither designed nor intended to earn double-party buy-ins, a plan to give Washington even more money and more power to govern American families. ”
There has been some bipartisan moment in the police after the guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd, a black man who died under the knees of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer. But gridlock threatens other issues with growing talk from Democrats on Capitol Hill that a change to the filibuster may be necessary.
“Things will start to creep in on parallel tracks,” said White House senior adviser Steve Ricchetti. “A lot of work is being done on immigration and police reform and criminal law reform in the committees and in the White House. We are involved in serious, healthy dialogue. And then we see what is ready to go and when. ”
But Biden will also have to turn his focus to international affairs.
The crucial relationship will be with China, which Biden invokes as an economic rival that can only be defeated if democracy is repaired at home. So far, he has largely continued Trump’s tough approach and maintained most tariffs.
He has ordered urgent aid to India, a nation rolling from COVID-19. In a jam on Iran sanctions, the president will be forced to choose which Trump-era sanctions to lift in an attempt to lure Tehran back in line with the multinational nuclear deal.
In June, he is scheduled to take his first trip abroad as commander-in-chief, on his way to Britain for an economic summit and then to Brussels to provide support to NATO, the military alliance built as a bulwark for Moscow’s aggression.
And although it is not over, negotiations are under way to add a third stop: a summit elsewhere in Europe with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.