(CNN) – If Joe Biden built a road in a quiet forest, would anyone know? This is the philosophical problem of a president who must live through one of the best days of his presidency, but struggles instead to convince Americans that he has accomplished something.
Biden made good on his promise to sign a major infrastructure bill, which previous presidents had eluded, into law. He did so, against all odds, on a bipartisan basis. The signing ceremony, attended by members of both parties on Monday at the White House, should have been a victory roll.
Instead, there are headlines for Biden and the Democrats.
New polls indicate that Americans do not understand his achievements and blame him for the state of the economy that worries them.
His approval rating, which has never been strong for a new president, is not too far from Donald Trump’s territory.
CNN’s Edward Isaac Dovery and Jasmine Wright reported this weekend about the mutual frustration between the White House and the office of Vice President Kamala Harris.
I’ll limit myself to sharing the first paragraph of the story, which is backed up by a comprehensive report:
“Because of what they see as its inherent dysfunction and lack of focus, senior aides in the West Wing have turned their backs on Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff, deciding that there is simply no time to deal with them right now, especially at a time when President Joe Biden faces rapidly mounting legislative and policy concerns.” .
This is not the kind of story that gets out when things go according to plan.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s Defense of Harris through Twitter, Sunday night.
“For whoever needs to hear it.VP is not only a vital partner of POTUS but a courageous leader who has taken on the major and important challenges facing the country, from the right to vote to addressing the root causes of immigration and broadband expansion,” Psaki tweeted.
Americans still don’t understand Biden
The Washington Post headline of a new ABC News poll was grim: “Biden’s approval hits new low as economic discontent mounts.” I asked CNN’s Director of Polling and Election Research, Jennifer Agusta, how we should view these polls.
What kind of fall is this? “There certainly hasn’t been much good news for Biden in any of the recent polls – his numbers aren’t in good shape – but the way polls are reported sometimes can make it look a little worse than it really is.” She said.
“Although Biden recently hit new lows in various polls, the previous comparison points for some of these polls have been for a long time. So while his numbers have certainly fallen since the summer and approaching Labor Day, it is unclear whether they are currently continuing. On the decline or not. If they are in the doldrums.”
Americans are not only skeptical of Biden’s achievements, but are also concerned about his priorities. Agesta cited a CNN poll, conducted by the SSRS in early November, in which 58% said the president had not paid enough attention to major issues.
Briefly. “Biden’s approval rating numbers are consistently low in several major polls, but it is not clear whether they are currently continuing to decline or are stable,” Agesta added.
It is impossible to know if approval has hit rock bottom.
It’s the economy, as always
Biden’s problems in the poll center around perception and economics. Inflation is expected to continue for months.
As long as Americans are concerned about the economy, it may be very difficult for Biden to convince them that his spending package is helping them.
According to The Washington Post-ABC poll:
- 70% of Americans have a negative view of the economy
- Nearly half of the country, 48%, blame Biden for inflation
- More than 6 in 10 Americans, including 71% of freelancers, say they haven’t accomplished much
How does Biden’s approval compare?
Biden has the lowest approval rating of any modern president at this point in his first term. That questionable honor belongs to Trump, according to Gallup. But Biden (42% approving, in October) isn’t much higher than Trump (37% agree, at this point in his presidency).
Why is infrastructure so hard to sell?
If you’ve read the infrastructure legislation text and wondered why there’s no more detail on what exactly it would do, it’s because the package, by design, doesn’t include specific projects.
Countries, perhaps dusting off much-needed projects for those without funding, will demand their share of the $550 billion in new spending. CNN’s Katie Lubosco is considering four potential infrastructure projects:
- Brent Spence Bridge. It’s a vital artery in the Midwest, but it’s stuck. The legislation could place a second bridge next to the first and make traffic and trucks move more quickly over the Ohio River. Between Cincinnati and Kentucky
- Expand public transportation in Atlanta. Exclusive bus routes outside of Atlanta have been studied and approved. The new law could save the billion dollars needed to make it a reality
- Improvement of the railroad hub in Chicago. A quarter of the nation’s rail freight traffic passes through Chicago, but the downtown lines have been described as a “dish of spaghetti.” Federal money can help take things apart
- Improvement of Baltimore Harbor. Officials want to raise their hand for the $17 billion that the law has earmarked for ports. One of the projects they envision is improving electric feeders and providing new electric vehicles, including container lifters.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the country’s top-elected Republican, did not attend the signing ceremony at the White House, but he bragged about the funding in his home state, Kentucky, saying it was a “gift from heaven.”
It will also be difficult for Democrats to focus on selling this infrastructure package, as they are still arguing over a larger social spending bill that would have an immediate impact on Americans’ lives by ensuring education for US children. from 3 years instead of 5.
If the Democrats cross the finish line, they’ll have more to brag about. But they will have to break through the frustration of voters about inflation.
How taxpayer dollars helped Tesla
Here’s an example of where tax dollars go when they leak into the economy.
CNN’s Chris Isidore points out that Tesla, one of the world’s most valuable companies, has benefited from billions of dollars in tax incentives.
Billions could increase if the social spending bill is signed into law and the government starts giving electric car buyers new tax credits of $7,500 per vehicle.
If electric cars are valued over gasoline-powered vehicles — and anyone concerned about climate change should do so — the tax incentives for companies like Tesla will probably be worth it.
However, it is very disappointing to watch Elon Musk troller To Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on taxes, Musk received taxpayer assistance.
“You want me to sell more shares, Bernie? You just have to say a word…”, Musk tweeted on Sunday as part of his trolling.
Here are Isidore’s accounts (and please read his story to understand more about each of these):
- Tesla has received $5 billion so far from selling emission credits
- SpaceX has so far received $10 billion in contracts from NASA
- Tesla managed to raise $1.7 billion from higher car prices thanks to tax breaks for car buyers
Add to those low-interest loans from the Department of Energy, which Tesla — now worth more than $1 trillion thanks to investor faith rather than sales — has since repaid.
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