WASHINGTON (AP) – Joe Biden’s presidency is entering a new and more dangerous phase, in which he is almost certain that he will face stronger Republican opposition and will also make it difficult to maintain the unity of Democrats, as he insists on an additional $ 4 trillion cost for programs that resonate with the new Deal and the Great Society.
After the 100-day mark, with positive approval ratings and a comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill of nearly $ 2 trillion, Biden now faces far more uncertain terrain. The president is vying for the calendar, ruling the most slender majorities on Capitol Hill, while knowing that the White House party has historically lost seats in the midterm elections, which will cost Democrats control of Congress after the 2022 vote. .
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In general, his approach is to stimulate the economy rather than stabilize it in the long run with middle-class jobs and to prove that a democracy, even bitterly divided, remains capable of doing great things.
“In another era when our democracy was being tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us: In America, we are doing our part,” Biden said in a speech to Congress. on Wednesday night. “It simply came to our notice then. That we all do our part. And if we do, then we will meet the central challenge of the age, proving that democracy is lasting and strong. “
Biden made personal overtures to Republicans in Congress, but efforts were directed at least as much at Republican voters, who far better supported his plans. Nod to bipartisanship it’s 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 if he can eventually move forward without them.
Its task may be easier, given the reliable signs of a strong economic recovery, with an annual growth rate of 6.4% in the first three months of the year. With the enacted relief bill, Biden’s economic team can now focus on structural issues such as income inequality, systemic racism and a lack of public investment.
“These were ideas that created a pre-epidemic,” said Heather Bush, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. These seem to be things we knew we had to do.
Several helpers are now focused on allocating billions of dollars from the housing assistance package, school modernization and state and local state aid.
The administration also wants to measure the results of spending to show Congress that its support programs are succeeding.
One example: The extended tax credit for children is crucial, as Biden has proposed extending the one-year increase until 2025 as part of his families’ plan.
“We know that the implementation of the enhanced right to a tax credit for children is crucial not only to reduce child poverty this year, but also to show that it can be done well so as to build support for its continuation and continuation. “Said Gene Sperling, who was nominated by Biden to monitor aid programs.
With such costly and far-reaching programs, Biden did not deviate from comparisons between his own ambitious legislative program and those supported by a pair of his Democratic predecessors, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. When the $ 1.9 trillion COVID bill was passed in March, Biden met with Harris and several senior officials in Roosevelt’s room to observe the vote.
Biden recalled it was in this room, where as vice president, he and President Barack Obama watched the final passage of the Affordable Care Act about 11 years earlier. But he remembered that this room was full of people, something impossible to do during a pandemic.
“If we didn’t have COVID, we would probably all have a glass together, but that’s what we’re doing instead,” Biden said, according to two White House officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about personal moments.
The point was clear: Even at the time of the triumph, the pandemic was constantly present. But now, with the incidence of viruses and the spread of vaccinations, Biden must steer the nation to reopen from blocking COVID-19.
He took a cautious step on Tuesday, stressing changing directions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when wearing masks outdoors. Even more fundamental steps lie ahead as Biden seeks to steer the country back to normal operations, fully open offices and schools, and safely meet the retained demand for travel, food and entertainment.
So far, the public has largely continued. The Gallup poll shows that Biden’s average rating for the first three months of rule is 56%, higher than Donald Trump’s by 41%, but slightly lower than Obama’s by 63%.
But Biden handles less on some specific issues, such as immigration and the border. West Wing officials were surprised by the increase in the number of migrants, many of them children, crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, creating a humanitarian upheaval and handing Republicans a political stick.
“The border and immigration have been a huge challenge and will continue to be so for the next 100 days and beyond,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama. “The president’s desire to confront issues such as violence against guns and voting rights may continue to exceed the capacity the bare Senate majority allows, which could anger his progressive base.”
Biden advised the patience of some of the left, emphasizing the importance of consistency of legislation, giving priority to the infrastructure plan, before addressing more pressing issues such as immigration, voting rights, pistols and the police. The president has given a brief overview through executive action on these issues, but will likely need to work with Congress on any significant action.
This will not be easy. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ridiculed Biden’s program as “a multibillion-dollar shopping list that was neither created nor designed to win bipartisan imports, a plan to give Washington even more money, and even more power.” American families in micro-government. . “
After the conviction, there is a certain bipartisan impulse in the police in the murder of George Floyd, a black man who died below the knee of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer. But congestion threatens other issues, with growing chatter from Democrats on Capitol Hill changing the filibuster may be necessary.
“Things will start to change on parallel tracks,” said Steve Richetti, a senior White House adviser. “A lot of work is being done in the commissions and in the White House on immigration and police reform and criminal justice reform. We engage in a serious, healthy dialogue. And then we will see what and when it is ready. “
But Biden will also have to focus on international relations.
The defining relationship will be with Chinawhich Biden calls as an economic rival that can only be defeated if democracy improves at home. So far, he has largely continued Trump’s firm approach and supported most of the tariffs.
He has ordered emergency aid to India, a nation shaken by COVID-19. In the congestion of Iranian sanctions, the president will be forced to choose which sanctions from the Trump era to lift to force Tehran to comply with the multinational nuclear deal.
In June, he is due to make his first trip abroad as commander-in-chief, heading to Britain for an economic summit and then to Brussels to pledge support for NATO, a military alliance built to support Moscow’s aggression.
And although not finalized, negotiations are under way to add a third stop: a summit elsewhere in Europe with Russia’s Vladimir Putin..