Robert Reich: Why Biden Isn’t Getting More Credit For Everything That’s Going Right – OpEd


It seems like every day, a reporter calls, asking me why Biden isn’t getting more credit for an America that’s better off than it’s been in decades. 

After all, inflation has plunged from 9 percent last year to 3 percent now. Real wages are up. Consumer confidence is up. Jobs continue to surge. Unemployment is near a record low. Gas prices are down. Manufacturing is making a comeback. 

Other aspects of American life have taken a turn for the better, too. Violent crime is down. Covid deaths are down. Illegal immigration has fallen. Roads and bridges are finally getting repaired. 

Yet just 39 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s performance, according to the latest survey by The New York Times and Siena College

An average of recent polls puts his approval at 41.2 percent. 

That’s lower than every president at this stage of their term in the last three-quarters of a century, other than Jimmy Carter. And we know what happened to Carter. 

Even more disturbing, the Times-Siena survey found Biden deadlocked at 43 percent to 43 percent with Trump.

So, should we be worried about the gap between how well America is doing under Biden and how poorly Biden is polling? No. 

It will take time for public perceptions to catch up with how remarkably well America is doing, but they will catch up — almost certainly within the next year. 

Americans are still traumatized by a pandemic that between 2020 and 2022 took more than a million lives in the United States and that plunged the nation into a seemingly bottomless recession followed by soaring inflation. 

And most of us are still deeply shaken by Donald Trump’s attack on democracy (which continues to this day). 

The shocks of calamitous events like these don’t evaporate when they’re over. They linger in the public’s mind, creating ongoing anxieties that generalize to society as a whole. Which is why so many Americans still believe the nation is “off track” today.

There are also deeper and longer-term problems — the decline of the middle class, the stagnation of the working class, homelessness, the climate crisis, and the searing inequalities that characterize this second Gilded Age. All have spread a pall over the era we now live in. 

As good a president as he is, Joe Biden cannot be expected to reverse these long-term problems in his first term. He is, however, making some progress on them — more, I’d say, than has any administration over the last four decades. 

Biden also has to contend with a Republican Party that’s far more vicious and unprincipled than it’s been in modern memory — a party that has no qualms about spewing endless lies about Biden and America. A third of American voters still believe Trump won the 2020 election.

Hardcore MAGA voters will never come around. But the vast majority of our fellow countrymen aren’t in the MAGA cult. They will. 

Don’t get me wrong. The 2024 election is far from a sure thing. All of us — you and I and everyone we know — are going to have to work like hell to inform the skeptics and holdouts and get them to vote for Biden. 

I continue to worry about third-party spoilers like Cornel West, “No Labels,” and possibly Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

But at this point I’m not concerned about polls showing Biden isn’t getting credit for all the good news. 

Over the next year or so, most Americans will see and experience the positive changes that Biden has wrought. That should help a great deal.

This published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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