Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden Voting Rights Speech ATLANTA, USA - JANUARY 11: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris speak to the American people about constitutional voting rights in Atlanta, GA, on January, 11, 2022 United States . (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Anadolu Agency / Contributor
Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Contributor via Getty Images

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Biden Faces Backlash Over ‘Voting Rights’ Speech

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1) Biden Faces Backlash Over ‘Voting Rights’ Speech

The Topline: On Tuesday, President Joe Biden delivered a speech calling on Congress to overhaul the nation’s election laws by passing the Democrats’ “Freedom To Vote Act.”

Quote Of The Day: “So I ask every elected official in America: how do you want to be remembered? …Do you want to be the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?… Do you want to be the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis? This is the moment to decide…”

– President Joe Biden

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The Speech

President Biden framed the passage of the Democrats’ Freedom To Vote Act as a fight between “democracy and autocracy.” The address followed his January 6th address where he implied that Republican efforts to pass election integrity laws were an attack on democracy, and more specifically, the rights of African American voters. 

Criticism

Critics were quick to point out that when Biden first ran for president in 1987, he bragged to voters in the south that segregationist Governor George Wallace once praised him as an outstanding senator.

Biden also implied he was arrested during the Civil Rights movement, but fact-checkers say there’s no record of any such arrest happening, and he never mentioned it in his autobiography. He also received criticism for using the term “coup attempt” to describe the January 6th riot, and compared Georgia’s recent election integrity bill to the Jim Crow era South. 

Many social justice activists are criticizing Biden for failing to take action on voting legislation during his first year in office. 

While some leading Georgia Democrats were present, Stacey Abrams, who has become the face of the Democrats’ election overhaul push, was not. 

The Black Voters Matter Fund, along with several other liberal groups, boycotted the event, saying it was nothing more than a “photo op” for President Biden.

The Bill

While voters in each state are currently allowed to decide their state’s election process, the main goal of the Democrats’ bill is to federalize the election process, allowing Congress to decide election laws for all 50 states at once. 

Democrats are framing the bill as part of a larger social justice fight. They say the new law is a response to Republican efforts to “suppress black voters” by requiring them to get IDs and standardizing voting hours. Republicans argue the bill would weaken election integrity at a time when millions of voters have lost faith in the process. They also point out how the vast majority of African Americans support Voter ID laws. 

At the moment, the bill is not expected to pass. Democrats need 60 votes to secure passage, and there is a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans. 

The Filibuster: 

In response, President Biden is renewing calls to abolish the filibuster in the Senate. If that happens, Democrats would essentially be able to pass any legislation. President Biden says the filibuster is anti-democratic, but Republicans have pointed out how as recently as 2005, he said any effort to abolish the filibuster was a “power grab” that would “eviscerate the Senate.” Democrats have used the filibuster hundreds of times in the last two years.

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2) Biden Policies Added Zero Jobs To Economy

The Topline: President Joe Biden has said he’s created more jobs than any president in the last 40 years, but according to a new analysis of his economic record, the actual number of jobs his policies created may be zero.

The Numbers

The U.S. economy added 6.4 million jobs last year, but economists say the economy would produce that many jobs if Biden had done nothing.

Last February, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the U.S. economy would add an average of 521,000 jobs a month between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2021, which amounts to 6,252,000 jobs.

It’s now clear that the economy added 6,116,000 jobs during that time. Last week, President Biden said the credit belonged to his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, but he and congressional Democrats promised that if Congress passed his economic measures, they would produce millions more jobs. 

Last March, while promoting the “American Rescue Plan,” Biden said his plan would create 7 million new jobs. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi later changed that projection to 4 million new jobs. In November, Vice President Kamala Harris promised the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework would create millions more jobs, yet.

The administration promised several million jobs in addition to the 6 million the economy produced. At a minimum, the economy should have produced 10-and-a-quarter million jobs last year. However, the economy produced 136,000 fewer jobs than the CBO forecast without Biden’s $3.1 trillion in new government spending.

Potential Causes

The American Rescue Plan paid an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits, meaning 48% of Americans made more money collecting unemployment than they earned working. 

Every dollar the government spends “creating” jobs must be taxed out of the productive economy, which depletes the capital in the private sector – or it has to be printed out of thin air, which creates inflation. Under President Biden, America has experienced the highest inflation rate in 40 years, which also hurts job creation. 

Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images

3) Inflation Surpasses COVID Among Americans’ Priorities

The Topline: After one year in office, President Joe Biden continues to grapple with multiple crises, including COVID-19, inflation, and immigration.

Priority Shift

According to an AP-Norc poll, Americans are changing their top political concerns compared to this time last year.

COVID-19 is receding in terms of importance for Americans, with only 37% saying the virus is one of their top five priorities compared to 53% at the same time a year ago.

Additionally, 68% of Americans mentioned the economy as one of their top concerns for 2022, which is around the same amount who referenced the economy last year.

However, 14% now list inflation as a major concern, compared to fewer than 1% last year.

Inflation in the U.S. jumped to 7% in December compared to one year ago, which is the highest level since 1982.

Around twice as many Americans are also mentioning their household finances as a priority compared to last year.

Other Issues: Immigration climbed the rankings by 14 points to 32%. Climate change and the environment dropped by 3 points to 21%, racism and racial inequality dropped by nine points to 15%, and the subject of politics generally dropped to 25%.

Paul Biris via Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

COVID & Schools

On Wednesday, the White House announced it will be offering millions of COVID tests to schools beginning this month. The news comes after Chicago Public Schools shut down for several days after teachers union members refused to teach because of school COVID policies. The president has faced mounting criticism over testing shortages and confusion about when to get tested.

Biden Approval Plummets

President Biden’s approval number sank to 33% in a new Quinnipiac poll, with 53% disapproving and 13% offering no opinion. 39% approve of the president’s response to COVID, while 34% approve of his handling of the economy. These new polling lows come as inflation hit a 40-year high last month, jumping up 7% in a year.

Omicron

Another study shows that Omicron is far less severe than other variants and half as likely to send people to the hospital than the Delta variant. The findings of the study, which included nearly 70,000 COVID patients in California, align with data out of South Africa, Britain, and Denmark. On Tuesday morning, government health officials reported that Omicron now makes up around 98% of U.S. COVID cases.

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