Throughout his CNN town hall, he repeatedly voiced his conviction that Republicans would come along, even if some were poisoned by conspiracies and others, he said, have “lies” on his record.
He faced open skepticism by some of his questioners, especially in the matter of voting rights. But he went on, extolling his belief in bipartisanship as nothing less than a quest to prove that democracy can work.
It was a reflection of the place where Biden found himself six months into his presidency. It is too early for them to give up their resolve to unite the country. Yet the window for something to do with Republicans is closing.
‘This is not a pandemic’
“There are legitimate questions that people can ask if they are concerned about vaccination, but questions must be asked, answered, and people should get vaccinated,” Biden said. “But this is not a pandemic.”
“It’s disappointing,” he was merely trying to downplay the current boom in the form of a pandemic for those who refused to take shots.
Amid the spike in cases, Biden’s aides have sought to outline the real progress he has made on the pandemic, taking into account his ability to contain the crisis and how voters will judge him. They have been resistant to returning to earlier levels of crisis messaging, realizing that progress could have an impact on national impacts.
Still, he and his colleagues have indicated that the coming weeks will be necessary to implement his broader agenda before the midterm election season heats up. So, the clock is ticking to fulfill his campaign promise to work with Republicans to prove that democracy is still functional.
Biden acknowledged that it was a question he was getting from foreign leaders, who asked him whether the US would “ever bring it all together.” And he said the spread of conspiracy theories was making it more difficult to work together, citing one that “Biden is hiding people and sucking the blood of children.”
Nevertheless, the president insisted on working together, his north star remained, with a member of the audience questioning him about the “utopian need to garner bilateral support”.
“I may be the wrong guy to talk to,” warned Biden, a confession he doesn’t plan to leave any time soon that Republicans and Democrats can work together.
He said he was bargaining with Republicans and Democrats alike, adding that the agreements are “real” and noting that the agreement is “between the far left and center and some of the more conservative people” within his own party. Should be. And without prompting, Biden checked 25 minutes into the incident, Rob Portman, the Republican senator from Ohio. Portman is among senators negotiating a bipartisan infrastructure plan, and Biden’s flattering message was fueled by his hopes.
“I come from a tradition in the Senate, you shake your hand, and that’s it, you keep your word,” he said. “And I found that Rob Portman does it.”
hard financial love
Politicians are generally wary of delivering bad news. Biden has insisted he will ignore the facts. And on Wednesday he delivered some unpleasant economic news in two separate replies.
He acknowledged that the current price hike was genuine when questioned about an overheating economy. And he apparently told the owner of a restaurant chain that he would continue to struggle to keep workers hired for the foreseeable future – and suggested raising the salary to the restaurant owner.
It was some tough economic love. But Biden was trying to make a point about the big changes trying to make an impact on the lives of American workers in his first year in office, convinced that whatever side effects felt right now pale in comparison to the big benefits down the road. happening, they are light.
“There will be near-term inflation as everything is now trying to recover,” he said, noting that his economic team has advised him that the current price hike will not last as demand returns to normal levels. .
Biden has come under criticism from Republicans for injecting trillions of dollars into the economy at a time when inflation fears are rising. But he pointed to economists who say the two plans he’s pushing in Congress will actually bring prices down.
When the restaurant owner stood up to ask how to encourage workers to return to work amid a nationwide struggle to retain staff, Biden acknowledged that it could take some time.
“I think it’s really a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things. And there’s a shortage of employees, people are looking to make more money and bargain. And so I think Your business and the tourist business is really going to be bound for a while,” Biden said.
But he said raising worker wages would prove to be a more sure thing, suggesting that the $15 an hour rate could attract a more reliable workforce.
“But you can already pay,” he said.
Biden lamented the fact that the two items – voting rights and filibuster – are so intertwined, although legislative progress is inherently tied to the existence of a rule that would have required a 60-vote limit on most bills. is.
Biden has said he is open to turning to filibuster by requiring senators to speak on the Senate floor as they lay down the bill. But he has stopped supporting calls from some Democrats to eliminate it altogether.
It was an unsatisfying answer for an incoming law school student, who asked Biden about the argument for getting rid of filibuster to “protect our democracy and secure the right to vote.”
But Biden suggested changing the rules now would stop achieving any of his legislative agenda — and while he insists that voting rights are his top priority, his plans for infrastructure and families are in Congress. More progress is likely.
Biden acknowledged Wednesday that “the abuse of filibuster is overwhelming,” but later said it would “pluck the entire Congress into chaos and nothing, nothing, will happen.”
the cage is still gilded
The last time Biden attended a CNN town hall, he compared living in the White House to being in a “cage of gold,” telling Anderson Cooper that he was unused to being waited on by staff.
Things haven’t changed much since then: He said on Wednesday that he missed leaving his bedroom for breakfast in a robe in the morning. And he wants to wear shorts and a T-shirt to hang out.
The moment it sank that he is now president – the leader of the free world – was on his June visit to Europe, Biden said, when he sat on a par with leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He knows who I am. I know who he is,” he said.
Indeed, Biden appeared to be in his element while abroad, seizing the four decades he climbed the ranks of American foreign policy to eventually lead the country’s affairs.
Still, he admits it takes some getting used to hearing “Hell to the Chief” as he walks into events.
“I went, ‘Where’s that?'” he said of the strains that first opened. “It’s a great tune but you feel a little self-conscious.”
This story has been updated with additional takeaways.