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Biden says Americans (like his poll numbers) are ‘really really down’

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Biden says Americans (like his poll numbers) are ‘really really down’

President Biden delivered a grim diagnosis of the national mood on Thursday, as sky-high gas prices and fears of a recession foretold a possible Democratic rout in November. Americans, he told the Associated Press, are “really really down.” And the coronavirus crisis is to blame.

For months, Biden has vacillated between talking up his economic record, notably rip-roaring job creation and low unemployment as the economy climbs out of the pandemic, and expressing the kind of empathy political reporters tend to call the “I-feel-your-pain” approach.

  • What seems to be emerging from the past couple of weeks or maybe months is not just a Biden echo of former president Bill Clinton, who deployed that “pain” line to great effect in 1992, but also a warning to voters that Republicans will make the pain worse.

“I understand Americans are anxious, and they’re anxious with good reason,” he said last week at the Port of Los Angeles. “I was raised in a household when the price of gasoline rose precipitously, it was the discussion at the table. It made a difference when food prices went up.”

“The problem is Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to stop my plans to bring down costs on ordinary families,” he told the AFL-CIO this week, accusing Republicans of favoring the rich and corporations and planning to go after Social Security and Medicare.

Talking up the economy hasn’t worked. His job-approval numbers are bad, notably on the economy. Big majorities say the country is on the wrong track. And as my colleague Emily Guskin chronicled in Thursday’s The Early 202, a majority of Americans think the economy is already in a recession.

“An Economist/YouGov poll taken this week found that 56 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is currently in an economic recession. About 2 in 10 each say that we are not in a recession (22 percent) or say they are unsure (22 percent). The poll asked a different group of respondents a question with more response options: a 43 percent plurality said we were in a recession, while 33 percent said the U.S. economy was ‘slowing down,’ 14 percent said it was “stable” and only 10 percent said it was ‘growing,’” she wrote.

We won’t know whether they’re right until late June when we get gross domestic product numbers. The economy shrank in the first quarter of 2022. If it shrinks in the second quarter, that’ll satisfy the broad definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Which gets us to Thursday’s interview.

“People are really, really down,” Biden told AP reporter Josh Boak.

  • “The need for mental health in America, it has skyrocketed, because people have seen everything upset,” Biden said. “Everything they’ve counted on upset. But most of it’s the consequence of what’s happened, what happened as a consequence of the COVID crisis.

Asked what he could do as president to turn the national frown upside down, Biden replied: “Be confident. Be confident. Because I am confident. We are better positioned than any country in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century. That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.”

The president also acknowledged mounting fears of the “R” word — not Russia or Republicans, but recession. “First of all, it’s not inevitable,” he said. “Secondly, we’re in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation.”

  • But fears of a recession — that the economy is entering one, or is already there — as well as a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike to rein in inflation hit hard Thursday, my colleagues Hamza Shaban and Aaron Gregg reported.

The stock market fell sharply and mortgage rates continued to spike, ensuring that the central bank’s actions will be felt by investors and homebuyers across the United States.”

The two developments could prompt Americans to pause spending and lead to a rapid cooling of the housing market, adding to fears that the Fed’s Wednesday actions might help spur a recession this year or next. But Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell has defended the decision to raise interest rates three-quarters of a percentage point, arguing that it was necessary to cool inflation. More rate increases are expected in the months ahead.”

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped more than 700 points, about 2.4 percent, to close below 30,000 for the first time since January 2021. Mortgage rates saw their biggest one-week jump since 1987.

Through it all, there are signs the national mood may not be entirely sour. A May Washington Post-Ipsos poll found 86 percent of Americans are satisfied with their lives overall. And the number of “very satisfied”? Thirty-seven percent.

Iowa court: Abortion not protected by state constitution

“The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday cleared the way for lawmakers to severely limit or even ban abortion in the state, reversing a decision by the court just four years ago that guaranteed the right to the procedure under the Iowa Constitution,” the Associated Press’s David Pitt reports. 

“The court, now composed almost entirely of Republican appointees, concluded that a less conservative court wrongly decided that abortion is among the fundamental privacy rights guaranteed by the Iowa Constitution and federal law.”

Top British official orders Julian Assange’s extradition to U.S.

“The British government on Friday ordered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States to face espionage and hacking charges. Assange has 14 days to appeal the decision,” Salvador Rizzo and William Booth report

“Assange has been held in a London prison since 2019, after seven years evading arrest by seeking political asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy.”

Stocks eye steepest slide since 2020 as central bankers roil markets

World stocks [are] headed for their worst week since markets’ pandemic meltdown in March 2020 as leading central banks doubled down on tighter policy in an effort to tame inflation, setting investors on edge about future economic growth,” Reuters’s Simon Jessop reports

  • “The biggest U.S. rate rise since 1994, the first such Swiss move in 15 years, a fifth rise in British rates since December and a move by the European Central Bank to bolster the indebted south ahead of future rises all took turns in roiling markets.”
  • “World stocks were flat on Friday to take weekly losses to 5.5% and leave the index on course for the steepest weekly percentage drop in more than two years.”

European Commission backs Kyiv’s EU ambitions

“The European Commission on Friday issued an opinion recommending that Ukraine should be granted candidate status for European Union membership — a first step that will add significant momentum to the country’s campaign to join the bloc,” Emily Rauhala, Adela Suliman, Amy Cheng and Jaclyn Peiser report

“Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said. “We want them to live with us the European dream.”

The announcement came after leaders in Germany, France, Italy and Romania pledged their support for Ukraine to become a candidate to join the E.U. Thursday. “To move forward, all 27 member states must agree. Even if they do, full membership could be many years away.”

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Fifty years later, Watergate is still shaping our politics

Fifty years ago today, June 17, 1972, an inept burglary at the Washington offices of the Democratic National Committee ignited a political scandal that still affects the ways Americans conduct and evaluate their politics,” Bruce J. Schulman writes

“Watergate involved a complex web of illegal activities that drove President Richard M. Nixon from the White House in 1974 and sent many of his senior advisers to prison. But its implications echoed far beyond the 1970s.”

“Not only did it become a cultural reference point, with the suffix ‘gate’ attached to almost every subsequent episode of political corruption, but it mobilized the federal bureaucracy against the White House, inspired curbs on the power of the presidency and set the stage for the subsequent impeachments of presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.”

Pence Plots 2024 Bid as Jan. 6 Hearings Remind Voters of His Break From Trump

“As the House committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol focused almost entirely Thursday on the role Mike Pence played in averting a constitutional crisis, the former vice president was far from Washington,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Alex Leary and John McCormick report

“Rather than watch the hearing, Mr. Pence was in Ohio, campaigning for Gov. Mike DeWine and a Republican congressman—the latest step in a carefully managed re-emergence onto the national political scene as he appears to lay the groundwork for a 2024 presidential campaign.”

Gun Control Advocates Have More Money Now, but Money Can’t Buy Zeal

“As recent progress on a bipartisan gun safety deal on Capitol Hill illustrates, the nascent [gun control] movement has coalesced into something more formidable. It went from being considered a guaranteed-to-lose issue for Democrats to something candidates organize around, especially on the state level, But because gun control was viewed as particularly divisive, many major philanthropists and big foundations have been reluctant to dive into an issue long seen as not just polarized but intractable,” the New York Times‘s Nicholas Kulish, Katie Glueck and Michael C. Bender report

“Yet as gun sales and gun deaths have risen in tandem, and the number of mass shootings continues to increase, including the attacks last month in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, big donors have begun to move off the sidelines.”

FDA authorizes coronavirus vaccine for young kids with shots likely next week

More than a year and a half after the oldest Americans gained access to coronavirus vaccines, the nation’s youngest citizens are poised to start getting shots next week, a move made possible when federal regulators Friday authorized vaccines for children as young as 6 months,” Laurie McGinley and Yasmeen Abutaleb report

“For many parents and pediatricians, the Food and Drug Administration clearing of two vaccines — one by Moderna and the other by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTechcomes as a huge relief.”

On tap today and Saturday: Vaccine advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide whether to recommend the shots to parents for their youngest children. Should the agency’s leaders concur, the shots could be rolled out as soon as Monday.

Biden lays out new climate goals at Major Economies Forum on energy and climate

At the third virtual gathering of world leaders at the Major Economies Forum under his presidency, President Biden introduced several new initiatives across the energy, transportation and agricultural sectors, Maxine Joselow reports

The new global efforts include

  • Initiatives to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and eliminate routine flaring.
  • A challenge to other nations to collectively commit $90 billion to scale up clean technologies needed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, of which the United States will devote $21.5 billion under the bipartisan infrastructure law.
  • A collective goal for countries to make 50 percent of new cars sold electric by 2030. 
  • The Global Fertilizer Challenge to raise $100 million in new funding to support research into alternative fertilizer to reduce agricultural emissions. 

Biden references Buffalo shooting in Juneteenth proclamation

This morning, President Biden referenced last month’s mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store as reminder of the persistence of racism in the United States as part of a proclamation on Juneteenth, a federal holiday on June 19 commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States,” our Post Politics Now colleagues report. 

What the Fed’s interest rate hike means for mortgages, visualized

“The rapid rise in mortgage rates means home buyers will need to pay significantly more for a home loan compared to even just eight months ago,” Kevin Schaul reports

“In November, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular home loan product, was barely 3 percent. As the rate approaches 6 percent, the added cost to a 30-year mortgage is hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Back burner no more: Dems set Manchin talks on party-line bill to simmer

“Senate Democrats are preparing for possible summer action on their still-elusive climate, tax reform and prescription drugs bill, grinding behind the scenes on a new version during high-profile gun safety talks,” Politico’s Burgess Everett reports

“Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) met twice this week on a potential party-line package. There’s more afoot: Schumer and his staff are working with the Senate parliamentarian to help tee up a possible July or August vote.”

“The talks could all fall apart, of course, just as they did in December when Manchin rejected a $1.75 trillion, White House-blessed plan. Any bill advanced this summer would be much slimmer than that one, focusing on lowering drug costs, reducing the deficit, raising taxes on the wealthy and boosting energy sources both clean and domestic.”

Latest Ginni Thomas controversy means the Supreme Court can’t escape the 2020 election

Supreme Court justices were divided over 2020 election issues and ultimately declined to accept any of Donald Trump’s baseless claims, but one justice stood out for emphasizing ballot fraud in sympathy with those who refused to accept the results: Clarence Thomas,” CNN’s Joan Biskupic reports

“The presidential election controversy is roiling the Supreme Court again, as the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack continues to obtain communications between Thomas’ wife, Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, and Trump adherents who were trying to overturn Joe Biden’s victory and part of activities leading up to the January 6 rampage. The committee has now asked Ginni Thomas to speak about her efforts to reverse the election results.”

The Biden’s are in Rehoboth Beach, Del., for the weekend. 

At 1:15, Vice President Harris will speak with community members in Pittsburgh, about removing and replacing lead pipes. 

Harris will return to D.C. at 3:25 p.m. At 4:30, she and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will visit Dulles International Airport to meet with aviation and transportation workers helping to deliver infant formula. 

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

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