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Biden Clinches the Deal

On Friday, Joe Biden addressed the nation from the Oval Office and told America that the hostage crisis was over. OK, he didn't put it exactly that way, since he is going to have to deal with the Republicans for at least another year and a half. But that is the reality, of course. It was Biden's first Oval Office address; in addition to his announcement about the debt ceiling, he encouraged Americans to treat one another with dignity and respect. Good luck with that one. He also said: "When I ran for president, I was told that the days of bipartisanship is over and Democrats and Republicans could no longer work together. I refuse to believe that. The only way American democracy can function is through compromise and consensus." Nice try, but most Americans now believe that the only way to save democracy is for their side to have the trifecta and use it to the max.

Biden also used the opportunity to list some of his achievements other than stopping the Republicans from crashing the world economy. These include support for high-tech manufacturing, investments in the infrastructure, and incentives to fight climate change. He also took a few subtle swipes at Donald Trump, noting that the deficit increased in each of the four years of his predecessor's term but now it was decreasing as a result of the bipartisan bill just passed by Congress.

The address was clearly a pitch to the low-information voters who keep saying: "Why can't the parties work together?" (Short answer: Because they want totally incompatible things.) It was bland and nonthreatening. That is his style and with some voters, his strength, especially if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee next year. In his address, Biden also made it clear that he would not accept any cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That is not likely to be a campaign issue if he runs against Trump but it will be a huge one if he runs against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who voted to cut them when he was in Congress.

Biden also pointed out his economic achievements: 10 million new jobs, bringing chip production back to America from China and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Additionally he pointed out what he has done to stop climate change and how that will create thousands of good jobs in the clean energy sector.

It was a preview of his stump speech going forward. Though low key, it could well work with independents and swing voters, especially against Trump or DeSantis, who come across as very angry. The speech also showed that Biden is not the doddering old fool the Republicans claim he is. It was a well-structured, well-presented speech—in fact, downright presidential. Of course, he didn't write it and he was reading off a teleprompter mounted on top of the camera, but appearances are what counts in politics. People who watched it are not going to think he is too old for the job. In the end, that could be as important as the content. If you missed it, here it is in its entirety. It's only 10 minutes. Do you think Biden is old and doddering?

On Saturday, Biden signed the debt-ceiling bill and the crisis was officially averted with 2 days to spare. That's how the government works these days. The bill will push the next iteration of this discussion into the next presidential term and the next Congress. If Democrats get the trifecta, which will be tough since the Senate map is brutal, they could try to repeal the debt-ceiling law altogether using the budget reconciliation process, but it would be a tough slog. (V)

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