Biden and the loss of the center

A year after being sworn in, Joe Biden is the most unpopular president in the polls – with the exception of his predecessor, Donald Trump – and his party is heading for a defeat next November. in the midterm elections.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

What happened ? It’s a lot because he lost the center. He lost the voters who sometimes vote left, sometimes right and who make and break presidents and majorities in Congress.

He is now at 42% popularity in the polls average. None of this is irreversible. But that requires a change of direction.

One of Biden’s problems is that he arrived in Congress with expensive ready-made solutions — all drawn from old Democratic Party boxes — as if Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s work should be finished now and then. .

While he had gone to the White House thanks to an image of a moderate politician and always ready to seek compromise, he passed for someone intransigent and a little doctrinaire.

It still produced bills that were passed quickly: a $2 trillion economic stimulus package and a $1 trillion infrastructure repair plan – a project that the presidents had been unable to complete. Obama and Trump. But they had ended up being the subject of a certain consensus, even among the Republicans.

It went downhill in late summer or early fall – when, incidentally, his approval rating dipped below 50%, largely due to the crashed departure of US forces from Afghanistan and shocking images recalling the fall of Saigon that all Americans have seen.

Add to that the coronavirus pandemic which is not under control, when he had promised in the election campaign to make it his priority, inflation which is rising and affecting prices, from the pint of milk to the gallon of gasoline , and supply chain issues that make several products hard to find, and you have Joe Biden’s recipe for unpopularity.

Some of his misfortunes are largely beyond his control, others come from within his own party.

Currently, the second part of his economic stimulus package, a bill called Build Back Better (BBB), is stalled in Congress, largely by opposition from some Democrats.

It is that BBB is expensive – 3.5 trillion dollars (3.5 trillions in English, so 3500 billion!) over 10 years with all kinds of social measures that the Democrats had long dreamed of, kindergartens for 3 and 4 year olds, construction and renovation of social housing, parental leave, expansion of health insurance for people elderly, etc.

But Senator Joe Mancin, a more conservative Democrat, finds it too expensive and blocks the project, saying spending should not exceed $1.5 trillion. After a standoff that lasted too long, President Biden admitted that his project would have to be adopted in stages.

Similarly, Mancin and his colleague Kyrsten Sinema are refusing to change the 60-vote supermajority rule in the Senate to allow passage of another Biden bill to make it easier to exercise the right to vote.

Obviously, when the president fails to convince his own party, it gives the impression of powerlessness.

There are, however, ways to do otherwise. We often forget, for example, that Barack Obama had let Congress determine the parameters of Obamacare, his emblematic bill on health insurance. The result was not a universal, public program that many Democrats had dreamed of, but basic insurance that the vast majority of Americans are quite happy with.

That said, nothing is lost for Joe Biden. Elections are decided at the center and his Republican adversaries are more entrenched than ever on the far right.

In particular, there is now a clear majority of conservative justices on the Supreme Court, six to three. And the constitutionality of laws restricting the right to abortion as much as possible – particularly in Texas – will be heard by the Court in the coming months.

Traditionally, Republicans win midterm elections in the United States because Democrats tend to vote less when there is no presidential election.

But there would be a surefire way to motivate Democratic voters, and that is to touch on the right to abortion, recognized by the Supreme Court for half a century.

Only 30% of Americans want to recriminalize abortion. The center, obviously, is on the other side.

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