World Biden scrambles between multiple political fires
Biden to survey US wildfire damage, make case for spending plan
Slumping in the polls, the US president seeks to boost public support for his spending and climate proposals.Biden will also use the West Coast trip beginning on Monday to support fellow Democrat, embattled California Governor Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall vote on September 14.
President Joe Biden cut a beleaguered figure Thursday as he raced to extinguish political fires on the left and right, at home and abroad, in an attempt to save his hopes of transforming the United States.
Whether it's war, diplomatic incidents, economic shocks or an obstructionist Congress, all presidents feel the heat sooner or later.
Biden's feeling all those flames at once.
Gavin Newsom projected to win California recall race
CNN and NBC both projected that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom would win Tuesday's recall race in California.Newsom held an early and substantial lead in results from California's Tuesday recall election shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. local time.
To the south, there is the human and national security drama of thousands of Haitian migrants abruptly appearing across the border from Mexico and camping under a Texas bridge.
To the east across the Atlantic there is a disgruntled ally in France, furious at losing a conventional submarines contract when Australia accepted an offer for US nuclear submarines.
All over the United States there is the fight against Covid-19, which Biden declared on the way to being defeated in July, only to see it roar back with the Delta variant.
And right in Washington, the 78-year-old president faces the mind-boggling task of juggling a Republican opposition eager to wreck his presidency and a Democratic Party flirting with self-destruction.
The Texas GOP sees Haitian migrants in crisis as a political opportunity
But it’s actually a humanitarian disaster exacerbated by Biden.On Thursday, he said that he had ordered state troopers and the Texas National Guard to “shut down six points of entry along the southern border” at the direction of federal immigration authorities as thousands of Haitian migrants await their turn to enter the US under an international bridge in the city of Del Rio in southwest Texas.
"I've been here for cliffs and crises and wars, and this is going to be the biggest mashup we've ever had since I've been here," Democratic congressman Peter DeFazio, from Oregon, told NBC News.
- Debt default? -
DeFazio was talking about the perfect storm brewing in Congress, where Republicans are fighting Democrats over Biden's agenda and Democrats are fighting themselves.
Put simply, Republicans and Democrats did agree earlier this year -- back when Biden's presidency seemed to be going far better -- to pass a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
This was good news for America's crumbling bridges -- and for Biden's promise that he could heal national divisions.
However, the real prize was Biden's push for a separate, mammoth $3.5 trillion social spending bill that he argues will redress gross inequalities by reforming taxes, reinforcing education and resisting climate change.
Why Biden’s approval numbers have sagged, explained by an expert
The Covid-19 resurgence and chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal have fueled a 10-point drop in his approval rating.A Morning Consult survey conducted September 10-12 among more than 15,000 registered voters pegged Biden’s approval rating at 47 percent, compared to 49 percent disapproval. That’s down about 10 points from a peak in February and March. (The pollster adjusted its weighting of results in June.
Video: Biden lays out foreign policy goals, challenge ahead 'is to execute them' (MSNBC)
On this, he never had Republican support, yet with Democrats holding a narrow majority in Congress he didn't have to worry.
That was the theory.
Fast forward to this week and both the smaller and bigger packages are on life support, with conservative Democrats insisting on whittling down the $3.5 trillion figure and leftist Democrats threatening to reject the $1 trillion version if the bigger version isn't passed first in its entirety.
Gleefully watching the infighting, Republicans have upped the tension now by refusing to join Democrats in authorizing more government debt.
In previous years this has been a largely uncontroversial, bipartisan decision that simply allows the government to keep borrowing so it can pay its bills.
This time, hardball-playing Republicans are forcing the Democrats to take the decision by themselves, apparently to try and portray them as spendthrifts. Democrats so far refuse to cave in, insisting that Republicans join them.
Five huge challenges for Joe Biden
The honeymoon has ended for the new US president. Anthony Zurcher explains why.Joe Biden started his presidency full of plans - for Covid-19 relief, infrastructure investment and expanding government safety nets.
Worst case scenario?
Paralysis in Congress. Current debt limits max out some time in October. The borrowing spigot dries up. The government shuts down. And the United States defaults on debts, sending stock markets into a panic.
"I have no idea how it all works out," DeFazio said.
- Biden remains sunny -
The mess -- especially the Covid rebound and the ugly Afghanistan withdrawal -- has made Biden deeply unpopular.
His latest Gallup approval rating of 43 percent is at Donald Trump levels and marks a plummet from 56 percent in June.
Yet for now, the veteran Democrat has not lost his trademark sunny optimism -- or belief in his vaunted experience as a lifelong Washington insider.
On Wednesday, he got on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron to bury the hatchet in the submarine spat.
Then he spent hours in the White House with different Democratic factions to air out differences on the spending packages.
Biden is "rolling up his sleeves," Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, brushing off doomsayers by describing the congressional impasse as "a messy sausage-making process."
But even Psaki, master of the half-glass-full narrative, acknowledges that her boss is up against it.
"Well, I think the country is going through a lot right now," she replied when asked about his plunge in the polls.
Joe Biden faces defining moment in US presidency .
With Biden’s job approval sliding, the US president needs a win in Congress where Democrats are divided on his agenda.After fours years of chaos under Donald Trump, Biden promised competency and a return to normalcy.