By traditional metrics, the U.S. economy is doing rather well. Job growth is up, wage growth has begun to outpace inflation, and labor organizing is sweeping the nation. But Joe Biden is struggling to translate those trends into political support—at least for now. The president’s approval rating is underwater by more than 13 points, which is a precarious position for any incumbent, to say the least.
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While media coverage has focused on inflation as the likely culprit for why Americans are feeling pessimistic about the direction of the economy, there is likely more at play.
Arguably the biggest achievement of the Biden administration has been the American Rescue Plan, its inaugural spending bill to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The centerpiece of the legislation was an expansion of the child tax credit, which promised to cut the U.S. child poverty rate in half. The program was a smashing success and the fulfillment of that promise became something of a rallying cry for Democrats for months.
Today, however, the tax credit expansion has lapsed, and child poverty has doubled, leaving the states to grapple with the problem themselves. For more on this check out this story by Stateline and this story by Next City. The president has blamed Republicans for refusing to re-authorize the program, which Democrats initially passed with as a temporary measure. House Republicans are currently poised to hold the government hostage again to exact more cuts to social programs. Check out this story in Jacobin.
On the campaign trail, Biden promised to get COVID under control, a strong position considering that Donald Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, which included a slow response, the president's embrace of quack cures, and his premature push to reopen, left 400,000 Americans dead by the time he left office. But that leverage is gone heading into 2024 as the death toll has climbed to well above one million.
The White House has taken limited actions to address the mounting body count. Vaccine rollout has been an undeniable succes. Amid the delta wave, the administration imposed a short-lived vaccine-or-test mandate for large businesses that was ultimately struck down in court. And after a particularly embarrassing press conference in December 2021, at which White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mocked the idea of sending out free COVID tests to Americans, the administration caved and distributed several rounds of tests.
But for the most part, the administration has been proclaiming the emergency ending or over and encouraging Americans to take personal responsibility for their health while making moves to put the pandemic in the rearview despite ongoing viral spread.
As part of the effort to turn the page on COVID, the president and his party allowed pandemic relief programs like expanded unemployment assistance, expanded Medicaid eligibility, and the eviction moratorium, many of which were signed into law by Trump, to end on their watch. In August 2021, freshman congresswoman Cori Bush led a protest on the steps of the Capitol to protect the eviction moratorium. Her efforts led to a temporary expansion of the measure.
The end of pandemic relief means that for some Americans, the grind may feel harder under Biden than it was under Trump. Thousands have lost health insurance as Medicaid eligibility has tightened in many states and for all but the wealthy, pandemic savings have evaporated. Now, student debt repayments are set to resume next week.
It is perhaps unsurprising then, given the loss of the expanded safety net, that despite Democrats’ best efforts to highlight positive economic trends, most Americans feel that the economy is doing worse today as a result of the president’s policies. For more about the booming job market, check out this story by Minnesota Reformer and this story from Michigan Advance.
The election is still over a year away, and much can change in that time. But for Democrats, complacency is risky.
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The UAW “stand up” strike is underway against the “Big Three” automakers. For more about the union’s tactics and demands, check out this story from The Real News Network.
The American Prospect also covered UAW’s tactics and traced them back in history.
In These Times also had a worthwhile piece about how the UAW strike was taking shape in Missouri. Check it out!
Status Coup has been on the front lines, talking to striking autoworkers in Michigan. You can watch the video here.
Donald Trump marked Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, with an antisemitic remark about “liberal Jews” voting to “destroy” Israel and the U.S. The New Republic had the story.
RELATED: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose presidential campaign has been struggling to catch on, has apparently alienated one of his billionaire backers with his war on Disney. New Republic also reported.
The Center for Media and Democracy revealed that the investment firm co-founded by GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy holds shares of BlackRock, which he has lambasted for promoting the “woke” agenda.
Jacobin had a piece about how Justin Trudeau's policies are failing to help hungry Canadians.
OptOut climate editor Amanda Magnani wrote a piece in collaboration with Yes! Media about how indigenous women recently marched for their rights in Brazil. Check it out!
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