Monday, January 17, 2022

Blaming COVID: Biden sees common culprit for nation’s woes NWN News

WASHINGTON (NWN) — Inflation is on the rise, businesses are struggling to rent And President Joe Biden’s Poll Numbers Have been in free-fall. The White House sees a common culprit for this: COVID-19.

Biden’s team sees the pandemic as the root cause of both the country’s malaise and its own political crisis. The White House believes that finally controlling COVID-19 is the key to rejuvenating the country and reviving Biden’s own position.

But the coronavirus challenge has proved formidable for the White House, the more permeable Delta version with premature claims of victory last summer, stubborn millions of Americans disaffected by the darkest days of the pandemic, and the sluggish economic impact.

All this as another type of virus, Omicron, emerged overseas, It’s a concern for public health officials, leading to new travel restrictions and market panic as scientists race to understand just how dangerous it can be.

While the economy is indeed coming back, there are many signs that the COVID-19 will leave its mark even as the pandemic subsides.

For now, in the administration’s view, a recalcitrant minority who is opposed to vaccination is spoiling the recovery for the rest of the country — putting masks on vaccinated people and everything you see everywhere. contributing to the concern.

Asked why Americans aren’t getting the message that the economy is improving, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week: “We’re still in the middle of fighting a pandemic and people are sick of it.” and are tired. we are too.”

The state of affairs, she said, affects everything from how people feel about sending their kids out the door for the price of a gallon of gas.

The administration sees the vaccination mandate as important, not only to prevent avoidable disease and death but to safeguard the economic recovery — and to salvage Biden’s political position.

“We have the tools to accelerate the way out of this pandemic as widely available,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Gents said at a coronavirus briefing. While he dismissed massive lockdowns like the one the United States experienced in 2020 and those popping up again across Europe, the Giants renewed the administration’s appeal for more Americans to get their shots .

But on Friday, the discovery of the new variant in southern Africa prompted much of the world to shut down travel from the region and there was a danger the World Health Organization suggested could be made worse by devastating waves from the delta. could.

Inside the White House and among aides to the president, there has been weeks of frustration over slow government action to approve booster shots for all adults. The regulatory process, they fear, contributed to misinformation and confusion around the booster and means the nation is not better protected for the holiday season.

Biden on Friday appealed for unvaccinated Americans to be “responsible” and get the shot, and also for those eligible for boosters. “It’s the minimum that everyone should do. … We always talk about whether it’s about freedom, but I think it’s a patriotic responsibility to do so.”

Still, with Americans for all hands on Biden’s laxity, Democrats say a change may be within reach.

Party strategist Jesse Ferguson said, “From Trump to Biden, people are starting to feel it’s mourning again in America.”

“Backing off the pandemic opens doors for the economy, our way of life, and people who feel less divided,” he said.

However, for Biden’s critics, it’s a stretch to blame all of the country’s problems on COVID-19 or to think that the virus will solve them.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has, in fact, blamed high prices on Biden’s massive pandemic relief package, saying recently: “There’s no question what keeps working Americans awake at night. Inflation. Runaway prices and the unpredictability fueled by Democrat policies. ,

The lingering impact of the virus has taken a toll on the president’s approval ratings, even though his handling of the virus has been seen as a relative strength.

In an October NWN-NORC poll, 54% of Americans said they approved of Biden’s job over the pandemic. This was slightly higher than their approval rating overall and much higher than their approval on handling the economy, at 48% and 41% respectively.

As recently as July, 66% had approved of Biden on COVID-19 and 59% approved of his job performance overall.

In last month’s poll, only one-third of Americans said the country was headed in the right direction, down from nearly half at the end of February.

Only a third of the sayings are in good shape, compared to about half in September, with views of the economy muted.

For the White House, pinning the blame on the pandemic is emerging as a modernized version of Bill Clinton’s years-old “It’s economy, stupid” mantra.

When pressed on what the administration was doing to control high prices, Saki replied: “We know what their root causes are, right? Global supply chain issues.”

“The best thing we can do as a government is to bring the pandemic under control. That’s the number one focus of the president.”

There is only one wave of message in the whole administration.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently stressed the need for vaccination, saying, “As long as the pandemic continues, there will be pandemic-induced shortages, which is why the best way to fix it is to end the pandemic.”

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, speaking about the administration’s response to the hike in gasoline prices, said getting people vaccinated was the “final answer”.

Economists broadly support this sentiment, but caution that the solution is not simple.

“The virus is at the root of the problems in the economy,” said Harvard economist James Stock, “and the best way to reduce the spread of the virus is to increase vaccination.” This is the number one economic policy in my mind.”

But with experts predicting that COVID-19 is becoming endemic, Stock said, “you have to be realistic that it’s not going away.”

Even if the virus fades, economists warn, it will have harmful effects.

Goldman Sachs noted in a recent analysis that nearly half of the 5 million people who have left the labor force since the pandemic have retired, making it harder for businesses to make up for lost jobs. Work by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom and others indicates that companies expect more people to work from home and shop online, a problem for local retailers who use office workers and others to buy lunch. It is up to people to return to the shops.

According to Bloom, only 5% of Americans’ total work days were at home pre-pandemic, a figure now at 25%. His colleagues and more than three-quarters of the workers they surveyed would prefer to work from home for at least one day a week and almost one-third would prefer to work from home for all five days. This can make it difficult for employers to evaluate their employees and use office space efficiently.

The administration is also dealing with the global economy, so it has its limits to address the issues of the pandemic at home.

The coronavirus outbreak in Asia has led to the shutdown of computer chip plants, leading to shortages of semiconductors, a sign that vaccinations around the world may be as important as the administration’s domestic efforts. One reason for Biden’s infrastructure spending to strengthen the supply chain is to offset the damage from these shutdowns.

“If a factory in Malaysia closes because of the COVID outbreak – which they have – it causes a ripple effect that could slow down auto manufacturing in Detroit,” Biden said in a recent speech. “Why? They can’t find the computer chips they need.”


Associated Press writers Josh Bock and Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.


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