September 26, 2022

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Biden’s many successes after all

The Senate’s approval of the Inflation Reduction Act, an important economic package that will allocate unprecedented funds to combat climate change and to public health, concludes a very positive period for United States President Joe Biden and his president. Administration. Some American newspapers are talking about a “turning point” of his presidency, and nearly everyone points to the plan’s entry into force as his most visible success.

Despite the still very low popularity and the complex political context, where the Democratic majority is very narrow, especially in the Senate, Biden’s presidency has been able to produce tangible results. According to many observers, the number of major reforms and legislative measures that have been passed has “few precedents” in recent decades. But these Biden successes have yet to affect voter approval, which remains very low, at least according to opinion polls.

Inflation reduction law A large package of economic measures Democrats have renamed to respond to the problem Americans consider most urgent, namely inflation. mini version ofRebuild better‘, the very ambitious $3.5 trillion initial plan proposed by Biden, which never got a majority. It has been debated for a year, and its upcoming approval (not yet passed in the House, where the majority is solid) will introduce measures the Democratic Party has been trying In some cases a law has been enacted for more than a decade.

It envisions the largest investment in American history in anti-global warming initiatives, with $370 billion funded in tax credits for electric vehicles, energy production from renewable sources, and repurposing polluting factories, with a goal of reducing them by 40 percent compared to 2005. Greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

It extends through 2026 to extend free medical assistance to the most vulnerable segments of the population, initially envisioned only as a response to the pandemic emergency. It specifies the possibility for the federal health insurance to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers, which leads to lowering their costs for citizens. It contains tools to reduce the 300 billion deficit and finances part of these measures with a minimum tax of 15 percent on the profits of large companies that pay so far less.

Despite being the most innovative and policy-relevant of those approved by the Biden administration, the plan is only third in economic size in the past year and a half. This is followed by the $1,900 billion allocated by the “American Bailout,” a set of economic stimuli to address the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the $1,200 billion from the “Infrastructure and Jobs Act” that financed public works. To renovate roads, bridges, infrastructure and expand broadband connections. The three maneuvers together represent the largest economic intervention by the US government in recent decades.

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The first two actions were agreed by agreement bipartisan: At the time it was in response to an economic emergency, but Biden was able to engage the Republican opposition as well on other limited issues. One of his electoral promises was the re-establishment of minimal inter-party cooperation, especially the complexity of maintaining it in an increasingly polarized political context.

A very modest and limited reform in the direction of arms control was also approved by a vote of some Republican representatives (But the first in 28 years), medical aid for war veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $280 billion in investments in the semiconductor industry to respond to the growing growth. Application for chips And stand up to competition from China.

Joe Biden at the NATO Conference in Madrid (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In addition to this legislative activity, in the first phase of the presidency, the appointment of the first African-American woman to the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jacksonand a large number of federal judges (41 in the first year, twice as many as Trump judges), with a share of 80% women and 53% African Americans.

after, after The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan a year agoIn recent times there have also been successes in foreign policy. US intelligence was highly reliable in predicting the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the administration’s support for the Ukrainian government was generally welcomed by both Democrats and Republicans. Biden also succeeded in strengthening the international alliances of the United States, which were weakened after the presidency of Donald Trump, and revitalizing NATO, to which two historically neutral countries such as Finland and Sweden are expected to join in the coming months.

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With the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Biden also achieved an important feat in the fight against terrorism.

However, historically American voters are more concerned with domestic economic conditions than with the successes of foreign policy or diplomacy. Positive signs are also emerging in this area: unemployment is the lowest in the last 50 years and the 22 million jobs lost due to the pandemic have been fully recovered (528000 new employees last month). The main problem for the Biden administration remains the significant increase in consumer prices, however, as a result of rising inflation globally.

In recent months, Biden’s popularity has been hit hard by the increase in the price of gasoline, a very important political issue in the United States: but in the past few weeks, it has fallen dramatically, dropping to less than $4 a gallon (3.7). liter) after being over the fivefold.

This overall positive scenario is matched by weaknesses and unresolved problems.

Public debate in recent months has been preoccupied mainly with price hikes, which the Republican Party has blamed on actions and decisions taken by the administration. Inflation is the main problem in the United States with 17% of Americans, According to a recent Gallup polland by 25 percent of Republicans: It’s everyone’s biggest concern.

Biden, 79, is the oldest president in American history and is often seen as old and frail. The spread of coronavirus variables and global trade problems also made it impossible to “return to normal life” that he had promised during the election campaign. Its overall popularity is among the lowest among post-war presidents: rate Approval rate is 39 percent, even less than Donald Trump in the same period of his tenure. Aging is also the main problem of the democratic base: II A questionnaire 64 percent of Democratic voters hope not to run for re-election in 2024. More progressive voters are also disappointed by the many compromises that were necessary to push through some reforms with a more moderate Republican or Democratic vote.

Biden in 2022 corrected his approach to an overly ambitious departure, which met the resistance of more moderate Democratic advocates. project of law “Build Bet Better Act”, introduced last year, It had failed due to opposition in the Senate from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, considered a “Conservative Democrat”. The majority of Senate Democrats is so small that even one vote against it can block an action: Democrats and Republicans have 50 senators and a majority can only be obtained by a vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, whose intervention is expected in the parity event.

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It is also for this reason that the approval of the Inflation Reduction Act, obtained with concessions from Manchin and Senator Kirsten Sinema of Arizona, was seen by many newspapers as a turning point. Hawaii Democratic Senator Brian Schatz described the deal as a “political miracle, in a party that is driven by Bernie Sanders’ positions.” [uno dei Democratici più progressisti, ndr] For those of the Joe Mansion.”

Joe Biden descends from the White House for Fourth of July festivities (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

This is likely to be a turning point in the narrative of Biden’s presidency. It’s hard now to say that he didn’t get any results The New York Times Cornell Belcher, an American pollster who was part of the Barack Obama staff. Democratic political strategist Ben LaBolt He believes that recent legislative successes may be “voting significant” because they relate to topics dear to voters such as inflation or drug prices.

Another advantage in the upcoming Democratic elections could come from the mobilization of activists after the United States Supreme Court overturned the 1973 ruling known as “Ro vs. Wade”That Guaranteed the Right to Abortion at the Federal Level: A Success referendum in kansas On this issue, it was seen as an indication that the abortion issue could have an important impact on the midterm elections.

Other analysts are more cautious: the probability that the Democratic Party will lose a majority in at least one room is still considered too high, even considering that in most cases the president’s party is defeated in office in the midway results. The election. An already slim Democratic majority risks disappearing after the election, limiting Biden’s room to maneuver.