US President in Crisis: Has America Is Back Mantra Worn Out? Reality check for Joe Biden
Washington There used to be more glamor. If Joe Biden travels through the country these days, it has little to do with the pompous presidential election campaign. On Tuesday evening, the US President visited a soccer field on the outskirts of Washington, between a dog park and shopping centers. “Our economy is right on track,” he called into the spotlight, “I guarantee many new bridges and roads, the fastest internet, clean water and affordable childcare”.
The president supported his fellow party member Terry McAuliffe, who wants to prevent a slide to the right in the state of Virginia. The gubernatorial elections are seen as a gauge of the political mood. That is why Biden came to reinforce shortly after Barack Obama had already traveled to Virginia.
The Democrats are currently doing a lot of persuasion. For the fact that it is still worth believing in the party – and in Biden as president. Because nine months after he took office, things are not going well for him.
Biden’s popularity ratings have been on a downward trend since the summer, and he hasn’t had a message of success to announce for a long time. The window of time for major political projects is closing, because mid-term elections are already in the next year, in which the Democrats could lose their majority in Congress.
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The Washington crisis also weakens Biden’s position abroad. On Thursday evening, the President set off on his second trip to Europe: he was received by the Pope, took part in the G20 meeting in Rome and at the climate summit in Glasgow.
Chance of breakthrough passes
He actually wanted to join Air Force One with concrete commitments in climate protection. But Biden has been wrestling for months now for historic trillion investments in infrastructure, social programs and renewable energies.
With every hour that passes without result, the chance of a breakthrough decreases. It is still believed on Capitol Hill that an agreement will be reached in time. But the president has already had to make many core promises, the sum of the packages is likely to be significantly smaller than planned.
“In Europe, people are following very closely that Biden is blocked in his domestic political agenda,” says Heather Conley, transatlantic expert at think tank CSIS. “The Europeans need a determined and stable USA more than ever. But they are concerned that we cannot offer them that ”.
Fear of embarrassment is also growing in Biden’s own ranks. “This is a critical moment to strengthen our standing on the world stage,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons. “If the president leaves without an agreement, the opportunity is gone.”
On paper, Biden could rule because the Democrats dominate both chambers in Congress. But his party is split, with centrists and the left arguing over taxes, drug prices and renewable energies.
Tug of a household package
The tussle over an extensive budget package is blocking an infrastructure reform that could actually have been decided in the summer. However, the left wing refuses to vote on the law until the larger budget package is in place – and the moderates, in turn, are bracing themselves against expensive demands from the left.
In the meantime, the budget package has shrunk from 3.5 trillion to under two trillion, and in the end it could be around 1.5 trillion. Biden’s room for maneuver became smaller with each round of negotiations, because he can hardly do without a vote in Congress. Some points have already been deleted from the negotiation process. Biden will probably have to give up these goals:
- Energy transition: The Democrats wanted to create a national standard for clean electricity – and punish energy providers who rely on fossil fuels. This heart of the green energy transition is probably out. A fee for methane emissions is also unlikely to arise. Even incentives that were previously able to reach a consensus are at risk: The Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, head of the Energy Committee, is struggling with the promotion of e-cars. “$ 80 million for charging stations, that’s hard for me. I don’t remember the government building gas stations when Henry Ford invented the Model T. “
- Social: Twelve weeks of paid maternity leave became four weeks. The USA is the only industrial nation in the world that offers little or no statutory maternity leave. Community colleges, which are widespread educational institutions, will also continue to charge fees. Health is also saved: the planned assumption of costs for dentures or hearing aids will probably result in one-off grants.
Steer: A higher corporate tax seems off the table. A wealth tax for the wealthy was also buried – at the request of a single Democrat, Senator Kyrsten Sinema. The counter-funding gap is a major risk factor. The Democrats are now considering a special tax on the stock profits of the 800 richest Americans. “But that only brings ten percent of what we need,” admitted Nancy Pelosi, head of Democrats in the House of Representatives. After all, the global minimum tax for large corporations is considered a consensus among Democrats. According to a new draft, 200 US companies with profits of one billion or more should pay at least 15 percent tax, with no chance of exceptions. A majority in Congress is not yet sealed.
The longer the argument goes on, the more obvious the problem of Biden and his party becomes: They can hardly control their external impact. Because it is difficult to convey to the general public what is in the almost 10,000-page bundle. Instead, the debate revolves almost entirely around the conflicts on Capitol Hill.
Right now, the Republican opposition doesn’t have to do much to drive Biden in front of them – the Democrats are wreaking havoc themselves. For example, her Senator Sinema was recently persecuted by left-wing activists down to the ladies’ room. And Manchin, who put the price tag on the billions of parcels down, is being urged “daily” to change sides. “But to be honest, I’m starting to no longer know where I belong,” he said at the Economic Club of Washington. “It’s not nice to be the bogeyman of the nation.”
Trump’s influence can be felt everywhere
The Democrats lack a mobilizing topic that will carry the euphoria of the 2020 election victory into the future. They still rely on Trump as the enemy. “This is not a Trump rally here,” shouted Biden during his appearance on the soccer field when demonstrators interrupted him with chants.
“I ran against Donald Trump, and my friend Terry is running against a copy of Donald Trump,” warned the President and called for a vote in Virginia. The fear seems great that the followers have grown tired nine months after Biden took office.
While Trump does not let go of the Democrats at home, Biden demonstratively distinguishes himself from his predecessor on the world stage. The President wanted to “constructively discuss energy prices, the Iranian nuclear program and supply chain issues” during his trip to Europe, the White House announced. Biden’s security advisor Jake Sullivan highlighted the transatlantic friendship. “The USA and Europe will be energetically pushing the agenda forward”.
Europe expert Conley dampened expectations of a signal of departure. The “America is back” mantra has worn out over the past few months. “This trip will be very different from Biden’s first visit to Europe at the G7 summit,” said Conley. Among other things, the submarine dispute with France damaged trust. “The Biden administration has to fix the damage first.”
More: “The USA is in serious trouble” – the top consultant Fiona Hill in an interview.