by Greg Valliere, AGF Management Ltd.
JOE BIDEN HAS STUMBLED through his worst week as president — stung by the Supreme Court, failing on voting reform, blamed for surging inflation, plunging in the polls.
YESTERDAY’S SUPREME COURT RULING further complicates efforts to curb Covid, as states and corporations are now free to set policies. The OSHA vaccine-or-test requirement that was struck down would have applied to 84 million people. The vaccine requirement for health-care workers, which the court upheld, covers about 10 million.
THIS NEW CONFUSION comes as experts predict the omicron surge will level off soon, not in time for the distribution of test kits, which the Biden Administration will hand out a few weeks too late.
BIDEN CLEARLY NEEDS A WIN, but he faces a stinging rebuke on voting reform in the next few days. One exasperated Democratic staffer told us yesterday: “why are they pushing so hard on an issue they will lose?” Apparently Biden wants to show the progressive left that he’s on their side, but they haven’t done him any favors.
BIDEN’S SHOCKINGLY INTEMPERATE SPEECH in Atlanta this week will haunt him for the rest of his presidency. “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” Even Democrats like Sen. Dick Durbin winced; perhaps Biden “went a little too far,” Durbin said.
FOR MOST AMERICANS, AND THE MARKETS, the big story this week was the huge rise of inflation; as we wrote yesterday, this will further weaken Biden’s chances of passing the Build Back Better bill. The prescription for inflation will be Federal Reserve rate hikes, rarely welcomed by the party in power.
IS THERE A COMEBACK SCENARIO? It’s possible that Covid and inflation will subside in coming months, and it’s possible that the Republicans could over-play their hand on issues like abortion. But history shows that voters’ attitudes usually harden by late spring, ahead of an election. Biden is running out of time as a GOP House takeover looms.
THE ONLY LAUGH THIS WEEK was the absurd suggestion in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Hillary Clinton could run in 2024 if Biden steps down. Clinton, 74, has virtually no support within the party; she screwed up an election she should have won in 2016 and the party will never forgive her.
BIDEN’S DISASTROUS VEER to the progressive left has many Democrats in this town deeply worried about the 2022 and 2024 elections. His worst week as president should be a wake-up call — time for some firings and a fresh agenda — but that would require a level of self-awareness that seems missing.
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This post was first published at the AGF Perspectives Blog.