REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) – He’s been here before.
President Joe Biden doesn’t need to look beyond his time as Vice President to grasp the challenges that lie ahead in promoting his new $ 1,000 billion infrastructure deal to the American people and to get the money out fast enough that they can feel a real impact.
When President Barack Obama passed a giant stimulus bill in 2009, his administration was criticized that money was too slow to make its way through the sluggish economy, and Obama later admitted that he had failed to convince Americans of the benefits of the legislation.
Obama’s biggest mistake, he said in 2012, was to think of the presidency’s job as “just doing the right politics” rather than telling “a story to the American people that makes them feel of unity and purpose â.
Biden began his own efforts to shape such a story when he performed a victory lap on Saturday after his infrastructure bill was approved by Congress, winning a fierce victory over a 1.2 bill. trillion dollars which he says will significantly improve the lives of Americans in months. and the years to come.
The Democratic president called it a “one-time investment in a generation” to tackle a range of challenges – crumbling roads and bridges, gaps in affordable internet access, water contaminated with lead pipes, houses and cities ill-prepared to deal with it. with increasingly frequent extreme weather conditions.
At the end of a particularly difficult week in which his party suffered surprise top-to-bottom losses in nationwide elections, the passage of the legislation was a respite after a difficult few months for a president besieged whose number of polls has dropped while Americans remain frustrated. with the coronavirus pandemic and an uneven economic recovery.
But the legislative victory sets up a series of challenges for Biden, both to promote the new deal and at the same time continue to push for a social safety net and a more than 1.85 trillion climate bill. dollars, which would dramatically expand health, family and climate change programming.
The stakes for Biden are clear in his falling poll numbers.
Priorities USA, a large Democratic money group, warned in a memo last week that “voters are frustrated, skeptical and tired – of COVID, economic hardship, school closures, higher prices and stagnant wages, unaffordable prescription drugs and healthcare and more.
“Without results (and without effectively communicating those results) voters will punish the ruling party,” President Guy Cecil said.
While polls largely suggest Americans support the infrastructure package, some indicate the nation is still unsure of what’s in it. About half of adults polled in a Pew Research Center poll in September said they were in favor of the infrastructure bill, but just over a quarter said they weren’t sure. .
In an effort to correct past messaging errors, the White House is planning an aggressive sales campaign for the infrastructure bill, with Biden planning trips across the United States to talk about the impacts of the legislation.
He will visit a Baltimore port on Wednesday and promises a dazzling signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill when lawmakers return to town.
The administration is also deploying the heads of the transport, energy, interior and commerce departments, as well as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and key White House staff to speak of the bill in the national and local media and in the African-American and Spanish-speaking press. And they’re posting explanations on departmental digital platforms to help Americans better understand what’s in the bill.
But even if White House officials talk about the contents of the bill, they’ll also need to make sure the money is spent. It’s a challenge Biden is intimately familiar with, having overseen the implementation of the 2009 stimulus package as vice president. Then, despite promises to prioritize “projects ready to go,” permit issues and other issues resulted in delays, which prompted Obama to joke in 2011 that “projects ready to go,” ‘jobs weren’t as ready as we hoped’.
Democrats believed at the time that the party was not doing enough to remind Americans how they had improved their lives, and ultimately allowed Republicans to frame the election conversation around government overbreadth. The following year, Democrats suffered massive losses in the midterm elections, losing control of the House and a handful of Senate seats.
Biden, for his part, insisted on Saturday that Americans could start seeing the effects of the infrastructure bill in as little as two to three months. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took the round promising that some projects are just waiting for funding, but others, like investments in new electric vehicle chargers and efforts to reconnect communities divided by highways, will take longer. Unlike the 2009 stimulus package, Buttigieg told NPR, Biden’s infrastructure bill is about “both the short and the long term.”
âThere will be work immediately, and for years to come,â he said.
As he sells the infrastructure bill as evidence Democrats can deliver, Biden will still have to deal with ongoing discussions about the other big item on his agenda – the spending bill. social.
Unlike the infrastructure bill, which passed with the support of 19 Republicans in the Senate, the social spending program faces unified opposition from the GOP, meaning Biden will need every Democratic vote in the Senate to cross the finish line. With the party’s moderate and progressive factions fighting over the details of the final bill, and two centrist refractories – West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema – pitted against many key progressive priorities, winning the final passage of the second part of his diary can be a much more difficult puzzle to solve.
âEveryone agreed on the infrastructure. You can always agree on whether or not to build the roads and bridges and create the water and sewage you need and fix your rail and ports, âsaid representative Jim Clyburn, DS .C., On Fox News Sunday. “
âBut it’s still another thing when you start to jump into new things,â Clyburn said.
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