Default risk, a test for Biden’s political genius
Joe Biden, who prides himself on mastering the art of political compromise, is playing big in tough budget negotiations to avoid defaulting on payments by the United States.
As the beginning of June approaches, synonymous with the possible bankruptcy of the US state, some elected Democrats – anonymously – are wondering: But where is the US president?
Candidates for re-election, Democrats must strike a budgetary deal with the Republican opposition after conservatives agree to vote in Congress for an increase in the US public debt limit.
“The White House’s communications strategy is atrocious,” complained, for example, a Democratic lawmaker to CNN.
The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, for whom this crisis has provided his biggest media exposure to date, is happy to capture territory by multiplying exchanges with the press.
For a while, the US President was actually absent: he went to Japan for several days for the G7 summit.
But before that he had called parliamentary leaders together twice in the Oval Office.
And he cut short his trip, which was to take him to Oceania, to return to the White House. Shortly after his return, he received Kevin McCarthy there, this time face to face.
For the rest, he wants to leave “space” for his team of negotiators, said his spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre. A team that, remarkable fact in a murky political climate in Washington, draws praise only from Republicans.
Has Joe Biden lost the flair he claimed to have acquired over decades of political career, failing to grasp a turbulent political landscape?
– “Hostage” –
Or on the contrary is his reserve strategy not to expose himself too much before the conclusion of a compromise, which will inevitably lead to disappointment among Democrats and Republicans?
“We have to find something we can sell to both parties,” he warned when he elected Kevin McCarthy to the House of Representatives to the reluctance of most right-wing Trumpists in the Oval Office.
The 80-year-old Democrat is probably under no illusions: There is, for each side, much to gain and much to lose in this political-budget crisis that is difficult to understand outside the Washington bubble.
If an agreement is reached, it means Republicans will compromise on their demands for budgetary stringency and the White House will compromise on some spending – in any case, the fact of negotiating is already a blow to the president. Shock, who refused to become a “hostage”.
But Joe Biden knows he has a lot to lose in the event of default, one that is already struggling with low popularity ratings, and with recurring questions about his age and his vitality.
“There are Trumpists in the House of Representatives who know the damage (a default) would do to the economy. And because I’m the president, and because the president is responsible for everything, it’s Biden who will be held accountable. And that’s for sure.” Good way to do it is not get Biden re-elected,” he said at a recent press conference.