Joe Biden promises return of the “American dream” while campaigning at a shipyard

Joe Biden, who hopes to re-elect the US president, visited a Philadelphia shipyard on Thursday to show off the country’s industrial boom, at a time when Americans don’t seem enthused about leaving him at the helm for four more years.

His address in the Pennsylvania big city on the East Coast aimed to be direct and simple, praising his “Bidenomics”, the name he gives to his massive investment plans, which he says are “another way of saying ‘let’s restore the American dream'”.

“This is a fresh start,” he insisted.

“Bidenomics,” on which Democrats have decided to build their campaign, should make it possible to reindustrialize the country after decades of relocation and abandonment of historic industrial centers.

These reforms, which pertain to infrastructure as well as semi-conductors and green energy, are aimed at restoring the country to an industrial power in sectors deemed critical.

Inflation in the United States (AFP – Jonathan Walter, Laurence Saubaud)

His visit to a Philadelphia shipyard where offshore wind turbines are built is part of that, a state that could still play a key role in the 2024 presidential election, where a new round of contests between the outgoing president and his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, is being announced.

“When I think of climate, I think of jobs, I think of protected jobs”, the US President insisted amid cheers from the attendees, “we are creating jobs in the United States and we are exporting American products”.

Broadly speaking, Joe Biden is counting on a strong and solid economic recovery after the recession caused by the pandemic.

So far, the US economy has not only defied recession predictions but is also seeing inflation, still very high in recent months, return to calm, at 3% year-on-year in June, which is lower than other advanced economies.

– Voting half-tilted –

But polls show Americans remain pessimistic and only a minority credit the Democratic president for the current economic strength.

Only 34% of respondents approve of the Biden administration’s handling of inflation, according to a Monmouth University opinion poll published this week.

On the jobs front, with a historically low unemployment rate of 3.6%, the US President looks more positive: 47% of those surveyed approve of his policy in this area, but 48% still disapprove.

And despite the White House’s efforts to prove otherwise, 32% of respondents think the US economy is performing worse than other countries. Only 30% believe it behaves better.

“The president touts his +Bidenomics+, but the needle of public opinion hasn’t really moved,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Americans give him little credit” in this matter.

Workers attend a speech by Joe Biden at a shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (eastern United States) on July 20, 2023 (AFP - Mandel NGAN)
Workers attend a speech by Joe Biden at a shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (eastern United States) on July 20, 2023 (AFP – Mandel NGAN)

American political polarization is at work here, too: Joe Biden scores well with Democratic voters, but particularly poorly among Republicans.

So White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre appealed for patience, recalling “historically low levels” of unemployment and good inflation data, and reiterated that the size of the US economy is the envy of the international community.

“Polls don’t tell the whole story,” he said.

At the end of his speech, the president went on to distribute ice cream to construction workers, showing himself confident and presenting his economic program as a historic opportunity to get the country back on track.

Projects like the offshore wind farm maintenance vessel, or the factories springing up across the United States, “instilled a sense of pride, hope and dignity that was slowly lost”, he said.

“For a long time, we were told +let’s leave industry in the United States+. How many times in the past 25 years have you read or heard that we can no longer be the dominant industrial power in the world? Well, we can and we will be,” Mr. Biden insisted.

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