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Biden Approval Rating Drops to New Low

President Joe Biden disembarks from Air Force One
Reuters
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Friday, May 20, 2022

Welcome to the weekend. Are you ready for a shockingly hot couple of days? Here's what's going on as we run around making sure the air-conditioning still works.


Biden Approval Rating Hits New Low

President Joe Biden’s approval numbers have fallen to their lowest point since taking office, according to new polling data from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research.

Biden’s approval rating now stands at 39%, down from 45% in April. The percentage of people saying the country is headed in the right direction has fallen to 21%, another low for the Biden presidency. And 78% of respondents in the poll, conducted May 12-16, said the economy is in poor condition, up from 70% the month before.

“The findings reflect a widespread sense of exasperation in a country facing a cascade of challenges ranging from inflation, gun violence, and a sudden shortage of baby formula to a persistent pandemic,” says Nicholas Riccardi of the Associated Press.

In what may be an ominous quote for Democrats as they head into the midterm elections, one frustrated voter told Riccardi that while she doesn’t blame Biden for everything that seems to be going wrong with the economy, she is upset that he hasn’t done what he said he would do. “He hasn’t delivered on any of the promises,” Milan Ramsey, a Democrat from Santa Monica, California, said. “I feel like the stimulus checks came out and that was the last win of his administration.”

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Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42 as DHS Says Surge of Migrants Could Cost $2 Billion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned to terminate a public health rule known as Title 42, which allows federal officials to expel immigrants for public health reasons, but a judge ruled late Friday that it must remain in place for now.

The news comes amid reports that the Department of Homeland Security says it would need as much as $2 billion to deal with the surge of migrants it expects to see at the border with Mexico if and when the rule is rescinded.

The controversial rule has been used to turn away more than 1.7 million migrants since the Trump administration put it into effect in 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden administration has kept the rule in place, to the consternation of many Democrats.

Currently, DHS encounters about 7,400 migrants at the border each day. According to internal documents seen by NBC News, DHS says it would need an additional $1.2 billion in funding if that number rises to 10,000 per day, $1.6 billion if it rises to 14,000 per day and $2 billion if it rises to 18,000 per day.

The additional funding would reportedly be used to construct facilities to handle migrants, build up the transportation network and enhance existing monitoring programs.

In the short term, though, the judge’s ruling Friday may help the Biden administration sidestep a difficult political issue. “The Biden administration is probably breathing a sigh of relief because they weren’t ready for the rule to be lifted, ” Wayne Cornelius of the University of California, San Diego, told The New York Times.

The ruling could also help ease the passage of the Covid funding bill that has been hung up in the Senate following efforts by Republicans to attach an amendment that would keep Title 42 in place.

Ukraine Becomes Top US Aid Recipient

Boosted by a $40 billion aid package this week, the U.S. has now authorized more than $54 billion in spending to assist Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression.

Of that total, a bit more than $31 billion takes the form of traditional foreign aid, according to an analysis by Bianca Pallaro and Alicia Parlapiano of The New York Times. That makes Ukraine the top recipient of foreign aid on annual basis stretching back to at least 2010.

“[I]t is roughly two times the amount given in 2011 to Afghanistan, the largest U.S. foreign aid recipient until now,” Pallaro and Parlapiano say.

The aid is also about three times larger than that provided by all European Union countries combined. Measured as a percentage of the donor’s economy, however, the U.S. contribution lags behind Estonia, Latvia and Poland.

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Democrats Face a ‘Time Bomb’ on Obamacare

Democrats face a potential pre-election “political time bomb” on an issue they had hoped would provide a boost with voters: the expansion of Affordable Care Act coverage resulting from increased subsidies.

Politico’s Adam Cancryn and Megan Messerly report that Democrats now worry that the more generous subsidies enacted as part of the March 2021 American Rescue Plan Act will expire as scheduled at the end of the year, leading to premium hikes that could affect some 13 million Americans and undo one of President Joe Biden’s key health care achievements. “And in a painful twist for a White House already struggling to contain anger over rising household costs,” Cancryn and Messerly note, “voters would begin receiving notices about their premium increases in October — around the same time they’re starting to cast their midterm ballots.”

The increased subsidies have helped drive Affordable Care Act enrollment to record highs in 2022, as more than 14.5 million people signed up for insurance plans under the law, a 21% increase over last year. And while Democrats hope to extend the higher subsidies — and the coverage gains they’ve produced — they acknowledge, according to Politico, that the only way to do that is to reach a long-elusive deal with Sen. Joe Manchin on a broader budget reconciliation bill: “Maintaining the subsidies is projected to cost tens of billions of dollars per year. And with Republicans uniformly opposed to continuing them, tucking an extension into the broader partisan bill is the last available option before the midterms.”

Healthcare headaches: The potential increased costs or loss of affordable coverage for millions of Americans adds to a similar concern that health care experts have been warning about for months: The official end of the pandemic-related public health emergency, whenever it comes, will also mean the end of a rule that prohibited states from purging their Medicaid rolls, and an accompanying increase in federal Medicaid funding. Once states start reviewing the eligibility of Medicaid enrollees, millions of beneficiaries could see their coverage dropped.

The bottom line: The Affordable Care Act subsidies only add to the pressure on Democrats to try to put together a budget reconciliation bill — and do it quickly, before insurers start setting their rates for next year. That means sewing up a deal with Manchin, who Politico says has been characteristically cagey about the issue. “Though he’s supported expanding Obamacare in the past, Manchin has so far been noncommittal about adding the subsidies into an eventual bill.”

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