It was an example of the President, who’s already shown he’s getting down to work on substantive issues, using current headlines to amplify his efforts to sell that work. In the face of far-worse-than-expected economic data, which critics were eager to pin on his administration, Biden stayed relentlessly on message — turning the poor numbers into a messaging tool. Headlines about the GOP, meanwhile, continued to be dominated by former President Donald Trump’s looming influence, which congressional Republicans did little to quell as they moved closer to ousting a Trump critic from leadership.
While Biden has hit the road to make his case to voters, he’s not exactly ignoring Republicans down Pennsylvania Avenue. Facing resistance to the size and scope of his plans from Republicans (and even some Democrats), he’ll soon meet with congressional leadership from both parties at the White House, followed by GOP senators whom he hopes will work with him to find an infrastructure compromise.
“Look, (when) we came to office — we knew we were facing a once in a century pandemic and a once in a generation economic crisis. We knew this wouldn’t be a sprint. It’d be a marathon,” Biden said Friday after the jobs report was released. “We never thought after the first 60 days that everything would be fine. Today there’s more evidence that our economy is moving in the right direction. But it’s clear we have a long way to go.”
As Biden has embarked on his tour to make the case for roughly $4 trillion in new spending through the American Families Plan and the American Jobs Plan, his opponents have often centered their pushback — not just on the cost of those plans — but also the notion that the economy is already recovering and that additional aid in the form of Biden agenda items like boosting the salaries of home health care workers is unnecessary when the recovery is moving at a rapid clip.
Biden refuted that argument Friday as he made the case that his plans would help blue collar workers who have been left behind in the economic gains of the last decade: “Let’s not let up. We’re still digging our way out of a very deep hole we were put in. No one should underestimate how tough this battle is,” he said.
Friday’s jobs report, showing the US economy added 266,000 jobs in April instead of the 1 million economists were expecting, handed Biden a new tool in his arsenal as he tries to circumvent Republican opposition by directly persuading Americans to back the next phase of his plans.
In response, he defended his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — which parceled out checks of up to $1,400 to eligible recipients as well as a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless payments and aid to small businesses — arguing that economic influx would take more time to show results fueling the economy.
White House officials were clearly surprised by the new job numbers Friday, especially given the expectations.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters that her best guess would have been higher, but that she’s watched data long enough to know it’s “ex
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