Another Disastrous Poll for Biden

Another Disastrous Poll for Biden

Are we heading for a shutdown? The House speaker may decide.
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Thursday, September 7, 2023

Happy Thursday! President Biden is heading to India for a summit of the Group of 20 nations with the world’s largest economies. Chinese President Xi Jinping won’t attend the summit for the first time since he assumed office and Biden is reportedly aiming to grow U.S. influence in Asia. “A primary U.S. goal for the G20 summit is to achieve agreement in reforming the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, so that they are better able to make investments in low- and middle-income countries — as a way to counter China,” ABC News notes.

Here's what else is happening.

McCarthy Plots a Strategy on Stopgap Spending Bill and Ukraine Aid

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is reportedly planning to leave out additional Ukraine aid from a stopgap spending bill that Congress must pass this month, a tactic that would threaten the Biden administration’s requested money for the war-torn nation and could set up a clash with the White House and Senate.

Congressional leaders are looking to pass a short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown after September 30, when current federal funding expires. The Biden administration has asked for $44 billion in emergency supplemental funding, including $24 billion in additional Ukraine aid, $16 billion in emergency disaster relief and $4 billion for border security. McCarthy reportedly may leave out the Ukraine aid from the stopgap bill and instead hold a standalone vote on that funding.

Such a move would allow House GOP members to express their opposition to providing additional aid for Ukraine. It could also allow McCarthy to press for more than the $4 billion in additional border money sought by the White House or other policy demands in exchange for funding the war effort.

“McCarthy wants changes to border policies as well as an increase in overall border security money in return for additional Ukraine aid,’ Punchbowl News reports, citing sources familiar with House GOP discussions.

But the White House is opposed to splitting off Ukraine aid and doing so would likely complicate passage of the stopgap spending bill and supplemental funding, raising the odds of a government shutdown.

“Lives are at stake across a wide range of urgent, bipartisan priorities for the American people that are addressed in President Biden’s supplemental funding request – a request that honors the funding commitments he and both parties in both chambers made to the American people,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told CNN. “Like Senate Republicans, Speaker McCarthy should keep his word about government funding. And he should do so in a way that acts on these pressing issues – including fentanyl, national security, and disaster response – rather than break his promise and cave to the most extreme members of his conference agitating for a baseless impeachment stunt and shutdown.”

McCarthy’s strategy would also highlight divisions over Ukraine within the Republican Party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday urged Republicans to continue supporting the effort against Russia, which he describes as a vital national security concern. “It is certainly not the time to go wobbly,” McConnell said.

The bottom line: This could get chaotic, but party leaders still want to avoid a shutdown. The House returns on Tuesday.

Another Disastrous Poll for Biden and 'Bidenomics'

The White House spent much of the summer promoting its economic agenda, dubbed ‘Bidenomics,’ but the effort doesn’t seem to be helping President Joe Biden with American voters. According to a new poll released by CNN Thursday, 58% of Americans think Biden’s policies have made economic conditions worse in the U.S., and only 24% think the policies have made things better. That’s the worst result for Biden on that question since he took office, with the negative assessment increasing by 8 points since last fall.

Biden’s overall rating isn’t doing much better. The president’s approval rating was just 39% in the poll, the second-lowest reading since he took office in early 2021. The only lower rating in the CNN poll was in the summer of 2022, when he clocked in at 38%. The most recent poll was conducted by SSRS from August 25 to 31, 2023, drawing on a representative sample of 1,503 U.S. adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points.

The fact that Biden is now 80 appears to be a major factor in his lackluster ratings. Asked about their biggest concern about the president, the largest portion of respondents by far (49%) cited his age. Nearly three-quarters (73%) said they are “seriously concerned” about his level of physical and mental competence, and 68% said they have questions about his ability to understand the concerns of younger generations.

While the results varied predictably according to party affiliation, with Republicans voicing less support for the president than Democrats, a significant number of Democrats offered critical opinions. Fifty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they are concerned about Biden’s physical and mental competence, 60% said they are worried about his ability to win in 2024, and 62% said they are worried about his ability to serve out a full second term. About two-thirds of Democrats say they would like to see someone other than Biden as the party’s nominee – an increase of 13 points on that question since March.

The poll also asked respondents for their opinions on potential matchups between Biden and the Republicans vying for the 2024 GOP nomination — and again the White House got some bad news. Former South Carolina governor and Trump administration cabinet official Nikki Haley beat Biden in a head-to-head matchup, 49% to 43%. The current president was in a statistical tie with all the other major candidates, including former president Donald Trump (47% to 46%) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (47%-47%).

Biden allies react: The poll results are raising alarms among some Democratic officials. “These numbers are not good, and they’re consistent with most of the other polling that we’ve seen,” David Axelrod, a former strategist for Barack Obama, told CNN. “The country is in a sour mood. He’s not getting credit for what I think is a fairly substantial list of achievements.”

Axelrod added that the road ahead could be difficult. “And the reality is, if this were a referendum, he would be in deep, deep trouble,” he said. “There’s an expression in sports that, you know, sometimes you have to win ugly. And I think that’s what lies ahead here for this president and this White House.”

Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s former communications director, pointed out that the election is still a long way away. “The Biden White House is not going to is not going to be rattled by this because their view is there are going to be 500 polls between now and Election Day,” she told CNN. “[I]t’s on the Biden campaign to make this election a choice and to make it about the contrast between what Republicans are offering and what Biden is offering.”

Number of the Day: 6.5%

The cost of private health insurance provided by employers is expected to rise 6.5% next year, according to benefits consulting firms Mercer and Willis Towers Watson. It’s one of the largest increases in years, following a lull during the pandemic, during which healthcare utilization dropped, easing the upward pressure on costs. “It’s much worse than we’ve seen over the last decade,” Elizabeth Mitchell, chief executive of the Purchaser Business Group on Health, told The Wall Street Journal, adding that the cost increase will likely come directly out of employee wages and employer profits.

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