NewsWorldOPINION | Biden's hot streak could become a...

OPINION | Biden’s hot streak could become a tailwind for the November elections


Editor’s note: Jorge G. Castañeda is a CNN contributor. He was Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico from 2000 to 2003. He is currently a professor at New York University and his most recent book, “America Through Foreign Eyes”, was published by Oxford UniversityPress in 2020. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely from the author. You can find more opinion pieces at (CNN Spanish) — President Joe Biden has been on a good run of success for a few weeks. After a terrible few months — falling in the polls, rising prices, paralysis in Congress, the unfortunate exit from Afghanistan last year — he has been able to turn the score in his favor with several important milestones.
He achieved the approval of a project of law of control -limited, without a doubt- of arms; lawmakers voted on a package to support US chip manufacturing; the intelligence services killed the leader of al Qaeda, without collateral damage, in Kabul; Congress also approved an initiative that provides more resources for war veterans; and, by a narrow margin, the Senate gave the go-ahead to a funding package to combat climate change, lower prescription drug prices, expand Obamacare funding and create a minimum tax on American businesses. Easy to say, but they are significant advances on several fronts. Add a better-than-expected inflation figure for July and the run is impressive. Before analyzing the implications of this recovery for the mid-term elections, scheduled for November, it is convenient to place this string of victories in an adequate context. These are undeniable successes, but much more modest than those announced and sought by Biden and his party in Congress a year and a half ago. When he began his administration, the president harbored foundational ambitions, first and foremost on two fundamental fronts: climate change and rebuilding the American welfare state. Among the goals sought were much more ambitious measures in environmental matters, and above all a large-scale social package. What was proposed by Biden, or by the leaders of the Democratic Party, especially from his left wing, included something like Medicare for all, a tax credit for each family with children, the forgiveness of student debt, an increase in old-age pensions from Social Security, and vigorous and bold measures in the area of ​​housing, especially those directed against the racism inherent in many of the urban regulations in this regard. The bill for all this was much higher than the amount recently approved by Congress (more than $3.3 trillion from Build Back Better vs. $370 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act). For various reasons, this program could not be carried out, and even the most modest attempt caused an inflationary spiral that still hits the American consumer and all the economies of the world. The effects of Biden’s founding project will have been more paradigmatic than concrete, which is no small thing, by legitimizing in the United States and in the world the idea of ​​a new welfare state and greater state intervention in the economy and society. Biden’s hot streak could become a tailwind for his party in the November election. The entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are renewed. Historical inertia suggests that the Democrats will lose their already meager majority in the lower house: the incumbent president’s party almost always suffers a serious setback in the first elections after his own election. However, the loss of the Democratic Party could be less than expected. In various generic voting intention polls, Biden’s party leads the Republican by a couple of percentage points. In the upper house, the president’s prospects look even better, for several reasons. Simply thanks to arithmetic. For starters: More seats held by Republicans than by Democrats are at stake. The chances of winning are then higher. Second, some of the Republican candidates, whether outgoing or new, are visceral supporters of Donald Trump. This helped them win the primary, but it could hurt them in the general election. Immediately, the Democratic candidates already have a significant advantage in financing: they have been able to raise more resources than the Republicans in several of the swing states (states with an uncertain electoral tendency) or that are really in a dispute. Lastly, it seems that the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate federal protections for abortion has mobilized a considerable part of the Democratic electorate, in particular, obviously, women. The proposal presented a few days ago in Kansas – an arch-conservative state – to include the prohibition of abortion in the state Constitution was defeated by a wide margin. A greater motivation of women and young people for this issue can help several Democratic candidates to win Republican seats in the Senate. It is not impossible that the new configuration of this chamber will be 51 versus 49 or even 52 versus 48, in favor of the Biden party. None of this is certain, of course. The elections are almost three months away and many things can happen. It’s hard to tell whether the mounting legal difficulties facing former President Trump will lead to negative political consequences for him, or if it will be the other way around: they could mobilize his most passionate supporters. Likewise, it is not yet possible to determine whether Trump will announce his 2024 candidacy before November, or later, or what effect an early announcement might have. But compared to the near crisis that Biden and the Democrats faced half a year ago, today they can only be pleased with this recent development. We’ll see if it lasts.

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