Biden on bipartisanship, sets the stage for 2024 at SOTU
Prescription Drug Costs. The fentanyl crisis. Veterans Services.
As he delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, his first as leader of a divided government, President Biden will tout a ‘unity agenda’ focused on areas he thinks he can find common ground with House Republicans, even as they raise a divisive series of voices in leadership roles, some of whom refuse to admit he was legitimately elected.
It’s a dress rehearsal for a likely re-election campaign, when he again tries to convince American voters that his experienced leadership and willingness to work across the aisle make him the right leader in these times. polarization time. Biden hopes to build on his success over the past two years to get some Republicans to sign off on major infrastructure investments, boosting US tech manufacturing and a modest gun safety bill.
Yet these achievements were made while Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Hoping for similar successes in the future may seem naive and even laughable, especially since Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is beholden to right-wing members of his caucus, many of whom only consented to his leadership. ‘after dragging out the nomination fight for five controversial contestants. days and 15 ballots. Concessions made by McCarthy included making it easier to oust his own party and giving some right-wingers more control over which bills get passed. All of this adds to the difficulties of getting McCarthy to compromise with Democrats and bring his own caucus with him.
“Sounds good, doesn’t it?” Yeah, good luck,” says Paul Stob, chair of Vanderbilt University’s American Studies program, of Biden’s efforts to promote his goal of advancing bipartisan legislation. “A chimera may be too strong a word, but it’s certainly a very difficult task. Biden will offer a lot in terms of unity and working with Republicans, hoping he can get some of that,” said Stob said.
There are still wide rifts between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over abortion access, how to handle immigrants fleeing violence and hardship in their home countries and wanting to live and work in the United States. , the amount to be taxed on companies and the reduction of the deficit.
The next few months should be dominated by raising the debt ceiling before the government runs out of money in June. Some House Republicans want cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security in exchange for their support. Biden says he won’t negotiate on raising the limit because raising the cap only allows the US to pay bills that Congress has already agreed to and a default could call into question good faith and US credit, make borrowing more expensive, and send shock waves through the global economy.
McCarthy and Biden met last week in the Oval Office, their first face-to-face since McCarthy became president. McCarthy, speaking to reporters outside the West Wing doors after the meeting, said he and Biden “promised we would continue the conversation” and “ultimately we can find common ground.” .
Learn more: Why Joe Biden, who likes deals, does not offer one to Kevin McCarthy
The two continued to adopt a more conciliatory tone. Two days later, speaking at a Democratic National Committee finance meeting in a ballroom of a downtown Philadelphia Sheraton two days later, Biden made a point of saying that not all Republicans are not “MAGA Republicans” who denied the 2020 election results and are beholden to former President Donald Trump. “There are still a lot of good Republicans left,” Biden said.
And McCarthy said Monday he had no intention of repeating the president-president relationship on display during former President Donald Trump’s final State of the Union, when Trump refused to shake Nancy’s outstretched hand. Pelosi, then president, and she publicly tore up a copy of her speech.
“I respect the other side,” McCarthy said in a video he posted on social media. “I can disagree on politics.”
In addition to finding a way through the looming debt ceiling crisis, White House officials believe they may be able to find Republican votes for efforts to cut the costs of some prescription drugs, improve care for veterans, expand investments in cancer research and reduce deaths. opioids.
Biden wants Republicans to help him spend more resources to stop deadly fentanyl overdoses that have increased in recent years. Biden’s Director of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta, told reporters Tuesday that reducing fentanyl overdoses “is not a red state issue or a blue state issue. This is America’s problem. Biden’s speech will lay out ways the United States can better fight smuggling by using cutting-edge technology to screen more shipments crossing border checkpoints and more packages being shipped from overseas. He is also expected to announce the launch of a stronger national campaign with the nonprofit Ad Council to warn of the dangers posed by fentanyl and fentanyl-containing drugs.
The president will also likely promote some ideas that will be dead among Republicans, including raising taxes on the wealthy, instituting a minimum corporate tax and banning assault weapons.
The State of the Union follows a hit jobs report showing the United States added half a million jobs in January. Yet Biden’s speech comes as his approval ratings continue to soar into the 1940s. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday found that four in 10 Americans say they are financially worse off since Biden took office. functions. That same poll found that 62% of Americans would be disappointed or angry if Biden won a second term.
Biden doesn’t view these times as a time to reinvent himself or embark on a new direction, his aides say. In the State of the Union, Biden expounds, “Here is where we can come together. This is what we will fight, this is who we are fighting for. And it’s all based on what he said when he was going to run and who he’s been his whole life,” said a White House official who advised Biden on the speech.
Although Biden has been clear that he will not negotiate on Social Security or Medicare cuts or defaulting on US debt, he wants to find ways to work with Republicans. , in part to show Americans that their elected officials can always work together to solve their problems. It’s part of Biden’s larger project to restore American faith in the democratic process. “He showed that we can actually come together and do things, that we can find common ground and get things done, which is what the American people want,” said White House communications director Kate. Bedingfield, on CNN Monday night. “That’s what they want their elected officials to do.” Biden’s speech Tuesday night will be his opening argument on how he and House Republicans can make it happen.
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