Biden is selling a ‘comeback’ story, but is America buying?

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President Joe Biden finally seems to have some wind in his sails, and Democrats are hoping it stays there — at least through November.

On paper, Biden’s last two weeks have seen numerous “wins,” including a veterans healthcare bill, a $50 billion investment in the nation’s semiconductor manufacturing capacity, a newly brokered, albeit limited, agreement on his outstanding spending proposals, an al Qaeda leader killed overseas, and meaningful decreases in historically high national average gas prices.

All of that has occurred with the president in COVID-19 isolation, and while some critics have speculated that Biden staying out of the public eye helped Democrats earn those wins, the White House has used Biden’s relatively mild case of the coronavirus to tout the administration’s work to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

Recent polling offers the administration more encouragement. The RealClearPolitics polling average saw Biden’s approval rating fall to 36.8% on July 21, a term low, but climb back to 39.5% on Aug. 3.

Meanwhile, the Inflation Reduction Act, the reconciliation bill brokered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is polling well among the general public, despite questions raised about its tax increases and actual ability to combat inflation.

A recent poll conducted by the Chamber of Commerce found that a strong majority of the 1,219 respondents are focused “like a laser beam” on inflation. Sixty-four percent said they are concerned with the direction the economy is headed, and 58% said they wanted Congress to focus on legislation lowering prices for consumers over all other issues, with every other issue receiving 7% support or less.

Biden has claimed the bill will raise revenues by ensuring that the wealthiest people and companies pay a “fair share” in taxes, lower healthcare costs for families, and develop “cost savings and job-creating clean energy solutions for the future.”

A separate poll published by Navigator Research on Aug. 3 saw 65% of respondents supporting the bill, with just 24% in opposition. Sixty-one percent of independents and 38% of Republicans backed the legislation. Still, Navigator found Biden’s approval rating 16 points underwater.

Republicans have been favored to take back the House in the midterm elections, but the Senate remains a toss-up. Senior Democratic officials and campaign strategists who spoke with the Washington Examiner say they are optimistic that the past two week’s developments, and the reconciliation agreement in particular, will make them significantly more competitive in those races.

“All this shows is that Democrats are the only party bringing real solutions for helping low-income families and making the wealthiest pay their fair share in taxes,” one senior Democrat stated. “Meanwhile, Republicans are using flawed math to make the same arguments they’ve been making for decades: Investing in our future will cost normal Americans in the long run. It’s a flat-out lie.”

A second senior Democratic official added that “Republicans consistently criticize our economic plans but fail to offer up any viable alternatives.”

“They’re attacking the Inflation Reduction Act rather than propping up the ridiculous proposal from [National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick] Scott (R-FL) because that actually will raise taxes on average American families,” the official said. “You can expect us to make the differences abundantly clear over the next few months.”

Republicans on the other hand are raising alarm about the tax increases included in the Manchin-Schumer bill. The legislation does not include any direct tax increases on people or families, yet an analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation determined that the bill’s new 15% minimum tax for corporations earning upward of $1 billion a year would pass increased costs down to consumers and individual stockholders.

One GOP strategist told the Washington Examiner the bill is “pure sleight of hand” and accused Democrats of selling out voters in order to land a “winning” midterm campaign message.

“Joe Biden and Democrats want to raise taxes during a recession. Biden lied, denied, and deflected the blame for the skyrocketing prices and recession they created,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Families can’t afford gas and groceries, but Biden and congressional Democrats want to raise taxes, waste more money, and make life increasingly difficult for those trying to just get by. Vote them out!”

“America’s inflation was caused by out-of-control government spending, and the Biden administration’s answer is to pile on even more spending and tax increases,” America First Policy Institute President Brooke Rollins added. “Their new version of the Big Government Socialism Bill will not tame inflation. It will make it worse. The commonsense solution is to immediately cut excessive government spending, increase domestic energy production, and encourage greater supply through less burdensome taxes and regulations. The U.S. economy is now in a recession.”