Washington: The president is us Joe Biden promised voters in 2020 that he knows how to get things done in Washington and can bring stability to D.C. It sounded like a message out of the way of Donald Trump’s belligerent era.
But Biden prevailed, and as he seeks a second term, he is once again trying to frame the race as a referendum on efficiency and governance, pointing to the bipartisan debt limit and budget legislation he signed Saturday as another example of the success of his approach. .
The deal the Democratic president negotiated with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans averted a US government default catastrophe — and thwarted another threat even after the 2024 election — while protecting the largely domestic agenda that formed the backbone of what he hopes to shape. legacy.
His approach, which favors pragmatism over Trumpism, will be tested like never before in the upcoming campaign, with his approval rating low even among Democrats despite his results, due in large part to concerns about his age as the oldest person ever. seeking the presidency.
“The results speak for themselves,” said Jeff Zients, the 80-year-old Biden chief of staff. This level of support demonstrates that we have bipartisan agreement and, more importantly, protects the President’s priorities. And now we have a runway that must be implemented in accordance with the priorities of the president.
Biden allies say his strategy reflects his broader vision for the presidency: to moderate the daily conversations and focus on making a long-term impact.
“That was the quintessential Joe Biden,” said a Biden confidant and former Delaware senator. Ted Kaufman. “He really understands the institutions, how they work, how they interact, and what their limits are. It’s the incredible advantage he has from having 36 years in the Senate and eight years as Vice President.”
This perceived advantage — longevity — may also be up hill for Biden as he seeks another four years.
Aides said Biden laid out a strategy shortly after Republicans took over the House in November and stuck to it through the talks, despite second guesses from members of his own party. He pressured Republicans to prioritize their budget, then put them public for unpopular proposed cuts once they did, to enter the negotiations with the strongest possible hand.
He believes in the institutions of American government. “He approached this particular issue toward making the presidency and Congress work the way they were designed to work,” said Mick Donilon, a senior adviser to the president.
As the talks progressed, Biden stepped out of the spotlight to allow Republican leaders to claim victory — essential to selling it to their caucuses — and quietly reassured Democrats that they’d like the deal the more they knew about it.
The result is an agreement that White House aides say exceeded their expectations of what a budget deal with House Republicans would look like. It essentially freezes spending for next year, rather than the steep cuts proposed by the GOP, and protects Biden’s infrastructure, climate laws and spending on Social Security and Medicare.
From Team Biden’s perspective, it’s also a much better outcome than the debt-fixing showdown of 2011, when Biden was then-President Barack Obama’s negotiator and House Republicans forced them to accept tougher budget cuts they believe hampered the country’s recovery. from the Great Recession.
Biden continues to come under fire from some in his party for agreeing to stricter work requirements for some federal food aid recipients and speeding up environmental reviews of infrastructure projects.
But the White House sees an upside: Permit changes will speed up implementation of Biden’s infrastructure and climate laws, and Biden aides highlight that Congressional Budget Office projections show cuts to work requirements for veterans, homeless people and those who move out. Adoption sponsorship will increase the number of people eligible for federal food assistance.
“While the rest of us sweat through the minute news cycles of who’s ahead and who’s down on Twitter, the president is playing the long game,” said Obama spokesman and Democratic strategist Eric Schultz.
“He ran for president vowing to put Washington back in business after his predecessor, and it’s hard to argue with his record of doing so,” Schultz added. “He has proven he can score big Democratic victories while also working in good faith with the other side.”
Biden has drawn a negotiating red line that the debt limit should be extended until after the 2024 presidential election, concerned both in substance and in style about the prospect of another confrontation in a hotter political environment.
His sentiment may be correct, but voters are increasingly concerned about his age and his losses, a message that would-be Republican challengers and the conservative media ecosystem have relentlessly reinforced.
“Biden has racked up an impressive string of bipartisan accomplishments and shown he can do just that without being the center of attention,” said presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky. “That’s what American voters said they wanted then. But 2024 will have a very different context.”
She said Biden will need to say the stability he has achieved is endangered by his opponents and hope voters’ memories are long enough.
White House aides say the deal gives them “room to run” during the 2024 election to focus on getting people to feel the effects of the legislation Biden signed into law, as well as begin to prioritize what he would do with another term and more Democrats in Congress.
Biden himself emphasized on Friday the contrast with the combative character of the Republican race and the status of the adults in the room. He called on both parties to “join forces as Americans to stop ranting, turn the heat down,” even as he highlighted GOP opposition to his efforts to increase taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations and cut tax breaks.
“Republicans have defended every one of these special-interest loopholes,” Biden said, as he tests a campaign line expected to hone in the coming months. “One by one. But I will be back. With your help, I will win.”
Despite Biden’s objections, and his goal of freeing himself and future incumbents from the prospect of future “hostage-taking,” Biden still hasn’t been able to break the cycle of the debt ceiling being used as leverage in negotiations. Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer said the agreement made the agreement a “mixed bag,” averting a crisis now, but one that could come back to haunt him and subsequent presidents.
The Republicans did it again. It happened when he was vice president, it happened when he was president, and it will happen again. “A lot of Republicans have always wanted the tactic more than the outcome — it didn’t stop that.”
Zelizer acknowledged that Biden may not have had any other options — proposing to use the Fourteenth Amendment to advance obligations without congressional authorization was untested and had its own drawbacks.
“When you have a threat like that, you have to negotiate,” he admitted.
But for Team Biden, results are what matters.
“He set his eyes on the prize, which was, How is this deal going to be executed? And how does that advance this deal?” Donilon said. And so I think that would actually be a reassuring moment for the country.”


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