Saturday, Feb 04, 2023

Biden, on Middle East tour, is battered by inflation and low approval ratings at home

Biden, on Middle East tour, is battered by inflation and low approval ratings at home

The sobering numbers, caused by high energy prices, will be top of the agenda as president visits the Middle East

Another searing inflation report yesterday underscored the deep challenges facing Democrats ahead of this year’s critical midterm elections, with widespread pessimism about the state of the US economy and Joe Biden’s stewardship of it.

Inflation soared 9.1% in June compared with the previous year, a new 40-year high. The rising cost of gas, fuel and rent squeezes American households and puts pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates further.

The sobering numbers, released as the US president arrived in Israel for a high-stakes trip to the Middle East, were driven largely by energy prices, an issue that will be top of the agenda when he makes a controversial visit to oil-rich Saudi Arabia this week.

“Inflation is our most pressing economic challenge,” Biden said in a statement on Wednesday. He said the cost of consumer goods remained “unacceptably high” but but argued that the report was “out-of-date” because it did not reflect falling gas prices, down by roughly 40 cents since mid-June.

Biden, whose approval ratings have been battered by high inflation, also called on oil and gas companies to bring down prices and urged Congress to pass a long-stalled economic spending plan, which the administration has said would help ease the financial burden on American families by lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

Yet the inflation report fueled new uncertainty over the negotiations as Democrats raced to reach an agreement on a stripped-down version of the legislation. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia and a critical swing-vote in the evenly divided chamber, said the numbers reinforced his view that lawmakers should proceed “very very” cautiously with any new spending proposals.

“No matter what spending aspirations some in Congress may have, it is clear to anyone who visits a grocery store or a gas station that we cannot add any more fuel to this inflation fire,” he added in a statement.

Joe Biden fist bumps with the Israeli prime minister, Yair Lapid, as the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, looks on.

Manchin’s warning drew a furious response from progressive Democrats, who have been making the case for months that the party’s political fate rests on its ability to deliver on the president’s campaign promises.

“If you want to know why President Biden and the Democratic party’s numbers are plummeting ahead of the midterms, look no further than the obstruction of Josh Gottheimer, Joe Manchin, and other moderate Democrats to protect corporations and the ultra-rich over working families,” Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats said in a statement. “Democrats must deliver results for working families suffering from inflation, wage decline and outrageous health care premiums – before it’s too late.”

Inflation is an acute political liability for the president and his party in large part because rising costs affect Americans broadly and directly.

With few good options available to tame inflation in the short-term, the Biden administration has made attempts to bring down prices, includingreleasing oil from the US strategic reserve and strengthening supply chains. Biden has also called for a national gas tax holiday, but the idea was roundly dismissed by congressional leaders.

Republicans seized on Wednesday’s report, accusing Democratic policies of fueling the spike. Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, declared the state of affairs “insanity” and said: “Voters know the best way to combat inflation is to vote out Democrats in November who rubber stamped Biden’s failed agenda.”

While voters consistently give Republicans an edge on the economy, Biden’s economic policies are popular. But Democratic strategists say the party must do a better job of selling their plans to voters – and contrasting them with Republicans’ agenda.

“Voters have to hear what we have done and what we are trying to do to make the economy healthier,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist. “We’ve been so quick to move onto the next thing to fix that we have not clearly articulated what we have done.”

He accused Republicans of using inflation as a “political football” while pushing policies that would benefit the wealthy at the expense of Americans hit hardest by rising costs.

“What we’re also going to have to do with these voters and any other segment of the population feeling frustrated is ask them the famous old question: Are you better off under us or them?” Seawright said.

Unrelenting inflation has pushed Biden’s approval rating into the high 30s and soured the national mood, distressing indicators for the party in power. A new Pew Research Survey found that Americans’ view of the economy is roughly as negative as it was a decade ago, when the country was emerging from the depths of the Great Recession.

Elevated costs of food, consumer goods and gas are among Americans top concerns with the economy, according to the Pew report. And, worryingly for the president, it found that just 20% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say his policies have made the economy better.

The president’s party historically loses ground in the midterm elections, and many Democrats are bracing for a backlash. But a New York Times/Siena College poll found a tighter-than-expected contest. The findings suggest that fury over the supreme court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion and a spate of high-profile mass shootings and shocking revelations about Donald Trump’s attempt to cling to power are shielding Democrats from a punishing result this fall.

Though recent polling suggests the political landscape has shifted in Democrats’ favor since the supreme court overturned Roe, the Times survey also highlighted a growing divide within the party’s coalition. The economy and inflation were top concerns for “non-white and working class voters”, it found, while white college-educated voters were more focused on cultural issues like abortion and guns.

Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist, said voters rarely make their decision based on a single issue, even one as deeply felt as the cost of food and gas. It is Democrats’ job, he said, to offer them a “compelling choice” on a host of pressing issues, “rising inflation, efforts to combat it, plans to ban abortion, schemes to overturn democracy” among them.

“People certainly don’t like the way things are going but when it’s a choice they certainly don’t see Republicans as the solution,” he said.


Related Articles

Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will block Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.