Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022

Moderate Democrats Fear Voter Backlash Against Biden

As incumbent Democrat officials look with despair at President Biden’s alarmingly low job approval numbers and prepare for a desperate fight to keep their seats in next November’s midterm election, the president and his team seem increasingly incapable of absorbing one of the first rules of political survival: “When you find yourself trapped in a deep hole of your own making, it’s time to stop digging.”

For Biden and his fellow Democrats, that time has long since passed. For the past month, Biden’s popularity with American voters has been hovering at about 10 points underwater, as his White House messaging machine thrashes about to find new villains to blame for the many problems facing the country — some of his own making, and some not, but for which he has no effective solutions.

On the contrary, in many cases, Biden’s knee-jerk liberal policy responses to each of the new challenges have just aggravated the underlying problems. His policies and messaging have been most counterproductive in response to the two most serious political challenges he and his fellow Democrats are facing today. The first is growing public resistance and skepticism over his panicky reaction to the emerging omicron Covid variant. The second is the alarming increase in the rate of consumer price inflation, which even Biden’s newly reappointed Federal Reserve chairman, Jay Powell, has finally admitted can no longer be credibly described as transitory, and shows increasing signs of becoming chronic.

But these represent only the two most visible tips of a huge iceberg of failed Biden policies which threaten to sink scores of moderate Democrat legislators and elected officials in competitive districts across the country in what Democrat pollsters are now predicting will be a Republican landslide next November. Their surveys show that independent voters, and even some moderate Democrats, are increasingly fed up with Biden’s extreme progressive policy priorities which are disconnected to the everyday needs and concerns of most ordinary Americans.

That growing sense of pessimism is also reflected in an unusual number of retirement announcements by veteran House Democrats who have no stomach to wage a tough reelection campaign to overcome the expected Republican wave, and no desire to spend at least the next two years as members of a powerless Democrat House minority.

BIDEN’S PERSONNEL PROBLEMS

Ever since Biden ordered the botched withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan this summer, there has a growing aura of incompetence and cluelessness surrounding his presidency which extends to his closest advisors. These include his press secretary, Jen Psaki; his domineering White House chief of staff, Ron Klain; and Biden’s constitutionally designated replacement-in-waiting, Vice President Kamala Harris, whose own missteps and public problems with her staff have made her an object of ridicule and quiet concern among her fellow Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media.

The shabby record and performance of Biden’s cabinet members and other progressives he has nominated to head important federal agencies have only added to the problem.

For example, Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, a failed Obama nominee to the US Supreme Court, has responded to a growing parents’ revolt against the progressive takeovers of local school boards nationwide by ordering the FBI to investigate the parents as suspected domestic terrorists for the “crime” of speaking out against the anti-American, “woke” curriculum being taught to their children in many American public schools.

Biden’s Justice Department and FBI, under Garland’s leadership, is even more politically driven than it was under Presidents Trump and Obama. It has pursued the vigorous federal prosecution of hundreds of mostly harmless Trump supporters who got caught up in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, while continuing to ignore the organized anarchists, Black Lives Matter activists, and violent hoodlums who continue to disrupt law and order by terrorizing residents and businesses in both minority and now upscale neighborhoods in Democrat-run cities and blue states across the country.

Biden’s reckless public declaration last month that he was upset at a Kenosha jury’s not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse further stoked progressive racial injustice complaints while undermining the public’s faith in the impartiality of this country’s criminal justice system. The young man, who had been wrongfully accused by the media of being a white supremacist, was tried for having shot and killed two other white men and wounding a third in self-defense, despite video evidence proving that each of them had attacked him first during a BLM riot in August 2020.

Biden has been publicizing his White House meetings with various business and labor leaders to address the many supply chain problems, work stoppages, and unfilled job openings which have been responsible for driving up prices and keeping all kinds of consumer goods in short supply. At the same time, Biden Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been largely missing in action while on extended parental leave. Buttigieg answers to reporters asking him to explain his department’s response to the transportation aspects of supply chain problem have been largely incoherent, yet he is now the Democrats’ leading unofficial candidate to replace Biden or Kamala Harris at the top of the party’s 2024 presidential ticket.

The atmosphere of chaos that Biden’s immigration policies created along the southern border with Mexico has been deliberately obscured by his Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas; largely ignored by Vice President Harris, to whom Biden assigned responsibility for managing the problem; and consistently denied by Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, whenever it was raised by reporters in the White House briefing room. Biden has also slow-walked his administration’s response to a federal court order which enjoined his decision to end Trump’s policy of detaining in Mexico all illegal immigrants seeking asylum at the southern border until their cases could be heard by an immigration court.

Biden’s most bizarre federal appointment was his selection, on the recommendation of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Saule Omarova to serve as the next Comptroller of the Currency. Omerova holds her economics degree from Moscow State University, where she wrote her thesis on Karl Marx. Since renouncing communism and coming to the United States, Omarova has publicly advocated for nationalizing the federal banking system. She was also grilled by Republicans last month during her nomination hearing before the Senate Banking Committee over another statement in which she called for deliberately bankrupting the companies which make up America’s fossil fuel industry.

BIDEN’S COVID PROBLEMS KEEP GETTING WORSE

While Biden has continued to rachet up Covid testing requirements and entry restrictions on tourists seeking to visit the United States, his administration has allowed hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to enter the United States with minimal if any Covid screening. Instead of immediately deporting them, the Biden administration has stealthily airlifted the immigrants, by the tens of thousands, for resettlement in immigrant-populated communities across the United States, defying federal immigration laws as well as largely ignoring the risk that they were carrying the virus.

Biden’s latest anti-Covid move, announcing on short notice last week, was the imposition of a new requirement for a PCR or antibody test within 24 hours for anyone flying into the country. It has once again disrupted the international tourism segment of the American economy, and has delayed expectations for the full recovery of business-related US airline travel in this country for at least another year.

Biden’s response to the current chronic worker shortage, which he helped to create by pushing Congress to pass a partisan Covid relief bill in March which provided over-generous federal unemployment benefits, has been to further discourage millions of idled workers from seeking jobs by instituting arbitrary vaccine mandates on all employees of the federal government, the health care industry, and mid-to-large size privately-owned American businesses. That effort by Biden to intimidate the roughly one-third of American adults who have refused to get vaccinated has backfired by increasing the nationwide shortages of health care workers, truck drivers, and others to fill the millions of available jobs at US businesses struggling to recover from last year’s pandemic-driven recession.

TOO MANY MANDATES

Every time Biden announced a new federal vaccine mandate, travel ban, or testing requirement, he discouraged more unvaccinated idle workers from returning to the national labor force, and foreign tourists from visiting the United States. Biden’s actions also encouraged other progressive Democrat officials, such as New York City’s outgoing mayor, Bill de Blasio, to follow his example by imposing an unnecessary vaccination proof requirement on indoor dining and entertainment venues, and, most recently, a vaccine mandate requirement for teachers in the city’s yeshivos and parochial schools, and even the employees of all privately-owned business.

Most legal experts agree that many of these arbitrary mandates violate the Constitution, and will ultimately be struck down when challenged in federal courts. But in the meantime, they are having a chilling effect on the overall economy and have discouraged many healthy, unvaccinated people from returning to the workforce. In addition, they have prolonged the climate of fear which has pervaded American society, while being politically exploited by power-hungry Democrats, ever since the virus arrived.

The Biden administration also doesn’t seem to understand that after almost two years of living under constant fear, many unvaccinated people have learned to live with the threat from the virus, which is not that serious to otherwise healthy, relatively young adults.

THE FAUCI PROBLEM

The White House also doesn’t appreciate that it is doing President Biden no favor by calling on his chosen Covid expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to publicly endorse the administration’s latest Covid restrictions. Because he has changed his “expert opinion” on Covid so many times since the pandemic started, and because he is suspected of having played a contributing role in the original virus’ likely emergence from the US-sponsored virology laboratory in Wuhan, China, Fauci’s credibility has been fatally undermined.

The latest blow to Fauci’s professional reputation is in a recent book by Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and health policy analyst at the Hoover Institution, who joined President Trump’s Covid Task Force six months after the start of the pandemic. Atlas had recently published a research paper in which he argued that the unintended consequences of the anti-Covid lockdowns could ultimately prove to be more damaging than the virus itself.

Atlas writes that he was surprised to discover that the Task Force included “zero public health policy experts and no experts with medical knowledge who also analyzed economic, social, and other broad public health impacts other than the infection itself.” Furthermore, the Task Force had been dominated from the start by a troika of high-profile doctors led by Fauci, Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx, and Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC. This trio of veterans of the federal health care bureaucracy had been working together since the HIV epidemic of the 1980s.

Atlas later learned that upon joining the Trump Covid Task Force, the three had made a private agreement among themselves never to disagree with one another over policy recommendation during Task Force meetings in the White House Situation Room, and that they would all resign in protest if any one of them was fired.

Atlas also observed that whenever publicly discussing the pandemic, Fauci usually adopted the worst-case scenario in a conscious effort to frighten the American people into submission to the latest White House anti-Covid measure, which he has continued to do as the Covid expert for the Biden administration.

In Atlas’ opinion, the worst mistake made by Fauci and his two longtime colleagues was to ignore the devastating collateral damage done by the widespread, long-term lockdowns of schools, “non-essential” businesses, and houses of worship they recommended, without bothering to do a serious cost-benefit analysis.

Atlas also expressed his amazement after it had become clear that the lockdowns the three had recommended had failed to achieve their main purpose, at “the total lack of mention of harms from the lockdown throughout the pandemic” in thousands of Fauci’s Covid-related emails that have now been made public.

Yet today, Atlas is no more than a peripheral figure in public policy discussions over the Covid pandemic, while Fauci retains his status in the mainstream media and the Biden administration as the country’s foremost Covid expert.

BIDEN’S ENERGY HYPOCRISY

Tens of millions of American families which are heavily dependent upon their cars are also furious with Biden’s policies which have deliberately obstructed the domestic production of fossil fuels, driving up gas prices at the pump and homeowner heating costs for the coming winter. Biden’s response to the growing political pressure on him to reduce soaring consumer energy costs was the old liberal ploy of accusing domestic energy companies of manipulating gas prices, and publicly begging Russia and Saudi Arabia to increase their oil exports.

Russia and the Saudis predictably rejected Biden’s plea to increase their production and thereby reduce the marker price and their profits from the sale of their crude oil, and despite Biden’s accusations, there is no evidence that big oil company manipulation is responsible for the runup since he took office of a dollar per gallon in average gasoline prices.

Before the pandemic, when American shale oil fields were producing record amounts of crude oil and natural gas, the US was net energy independent for the first time in 60 years, and gasoline and home heating fuel were much more affordable than they are today.

But when the oil markets recovered from the pandemic-reduced recession, Biden’s open war on domestic fossil fuel producers made it impossible for them to return to their pre-pandemic production levels. Biden’s actions during his first days as president to cancel the Keystone XL oil pipeline running from Canada, ban the issuance of new drilling leases on federal lands, close a known Alaskan oil field to exploration, and other measures, were deliberately intended to make it harder for domestic fossil fuel companies to remain in business. Because of those Biden policies, America had forfeited its energy independence, and its economy was once again at the mercy of foreign oil suppliers.

BIDEN’S INEFFECTIVE GAS PRICE RESPONSE

If Biden had wanted to, he had the ability to immediately bring down the cost of gas at the pump substantially. He could have ordered the suspension of the collection of the 18.4 cents a gallon federal gasoline tax, and lifted the ethanol requirement on gasoline suppliers, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, which would have cut about another 20 cents per gallon from the price of gas at the pump.

But Biden chose not to take either step, for fear of criticism from progressive Democrat green energy activists, led by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as lobbyists for the big agricultural interests, which make a fortune on the excess corn they refine into ethanol to meet the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. The only move that Biden was willing to make to bring down the price at the pump was a one-time release of 50 million barrels of oil from the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve — but it had no significant impact on retail gas prices.

THE CONTINUING MAINSTREAM MEDIA COVERUP

After the Afghan withdrawal fiasco this summer, Biden lost his prior immunity to criticism from the mainstream media for his most egregious policy mistakes. But White House beat reporters, except those from Fox News, still have a tendency to overlook Biden’s more minor gaffes and verbal misstatements. They also tend to accept, with few questions, frequent efforts by Psaki and other White House spokespeople to clean up his mistakes after the fact.

Like other Democrat leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California governor Gavin Newsom, the mainstream media doesn’t seem to be surprised or dismayed when Biden is caught violating his own recommendations, such as when he was seen entering a store without wearing a mask during his recent holiday vacation on Nantucket Island.

Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, also dismissed an embarrassing question during a White House press briefing last week from Fox News reporter Peter Doocy. He cited Biden’s claim during last year’s president campaign regarding the Covid pandemic, that “anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” and then had the guts to ask Psaki, “Is that still the standard now that more Americans have died under President Biden than President Trump?”

Psaki ducked the question by claiming there is a “stark difference” between the two presidents, because Biden is doing what is best “to save lives and protect people,” while Trump was sometimes responsible for providing the public with “misinformation” about the virus.

BIDEN’S SINKING POPULARITY

The list of Biden’s policy blunders and embarrassing examples of his incompetence gets longer every day. It is a source of despair for Democrats up for reelection, as well as growing hope for Republicans that they will recapture control of both houses of Congress in next year’s midterm elections, and the White House in 2024.

A poll commission by the campaign committee for House Democrats this month demonstrated the depth of the president’s political problems. It showed him down in battleground districts across the country, with 52% of all voters disapproving of the job he’s doing.

A Morning Consult poll also found Biden underwater with voters in the battleground states of Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Arizona, where incumbent Democrat senators will be running for reelection next November. Currently, those incumbents are running ahead of Biden with voters in their states, but they would all be vulnerable should Biden’s popularity decline much further.

The more optimistic Democrats dismiss Biden’s current deficit in the polls as a temporary dip in his popularity, and claim that he is likely to recover before the election, which is still 11 months away. However, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, recently admitted that he sees Biden’s low recent poll numbers as “scary.”

IS THE PROBLEM MESSAGING OR POLICY?

On the other hand, Democrat House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts says that the party’s current low standing in the opinion polls is primarily a “messaging challenge” rather than any fundamental problem with the expensive new progressive spending measures it is now pushing as part of Biden’s Build Back Better proposal.

“When you look at the individual parts of what we’ve done,” Neal claims, “they’re all not just marginally popular, but they’re wildly popular with the American electorate.” But other Democrat strategists disagree. They note that in the recent debate over the proposal between House Democrat progressives and moderates, most of the attention was on the high overall cost of the bill and its more controversial provisions, such as the raising of the current $10,000 cap on the SALT itemized tax deduction, which progressives such as Senator Bernie Sanders have bitterly condemned as “a tax cut for billionaires.”

A more serious immediate problem for Democrats up for reelection is that even if they do succeed in passing Biden’s Build Back Better proposal, which calls for a massive expansion and restructuring of the nation’s social safety net, most voters won’t see its direct benefits to them until after next November’s election. It is far more likely that whether they will win or lose will be determined by the amount of progress Biden has made by Election Day in bringing an end to the pandemic, bringing down the rate of inflation, and maintaining the momentum of the economy’s recovery, which are the dominant issues for most voters over which the candidates will have no direct influence.

DEMOCRAT MODERATES CALLING FOR A NEW DIRECTION

Many of the most vulnerable House Democrats are now pressing the White House to put aside the progressive policy agenda items which dominate the Build Back Better proposal and concentrate instead on dealing with bread-and-butter economic issues of primary concern to most voters, who are worried about rising costs and skeptical that the economic recovery will continue.

These new priorities for Democrats emerged from focus groups their pollsters ran following the shocking Republican gains last month in the gubernatorial and legislative elections in the normally Democrat-dominated states of Virginia and New Jersey. In addition to the specific issues they identified, focus group members expressed a general feeling that Democrat candidates no longer shared their values and priorities, and were more interested in promoting the progressive policy agenda than addressing the more immediate, everyday concerns of most mainstream and working-class voters.

In a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer last week, 22 moderate Democrats, including 16 who have been targeted for defeat next November by the National Republican Congressional Committee, wrote that while the recently enacted infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better proposal, which would fund expanded child care and education programs, are steps in the right direction, much more needs to be done to win over the voters who are primarily concerned about the economy.

“We urge additional action by the House of Representatives to further address the disruptions and higher costs our constituents are experiencing,” the moderate Democrats wrote. “These costs of underinvestment are currently being felt by our constituents, and this Congress must take this issue seriously and act.”

Unlike Congressman Neal, these vulnerable moderate Democrats believe the problem goes much deeper than a dysfunctional White House messaging operation. They think it is due to a fundamental mismatch between Biden’s progressive agenda and the top concerns of most mainstream American voters.

BIDEN STILL DOESN’T GET IT

However, even though the call by moderates to shift their party’s priorities has been heard by the White House, Biden’s message to the American people addressing their concerns over inflation, supply chain issues, and the direction of the economy during the current end-of-year shopping season does not reflect the same sense of urgency.

In a speech he delivered the day before Thanksgiving, Biden said that supply chain issues contributing to delayed deliveries would remain a short-term problem, and blamed the news reports for exaggerating the widespread reports of shortages in traditional seasonal items, as well as toys and consumer goods.

“But here’s the deal for the vast majority of the country,” Biden claimed. “That’s not what’s happening, because of the actions the administration has taken in partnership with business and labor retailers and grocery stores, freight movers and railroads, and those shelves are going to be stocked.”

While it was a step in the right direction, Biden’s speech only addressed a single item on a long list of typical voter concerns about his policies, priorities, and capabilities, based upon their deep disappointment in the results he has achieved more than 10 months into his presidency.

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