By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden saw a flurry of setbacks on a range of key issues this week, making it one of his toughest since taking office.
Pres. Biden addressed those difficulties in a speech Friday after losses in Congress, the Supreme Court, the court of public opinion and with the economy.
“There’s a lot of talk about disappointments and things we haven’t gotten done,” Pres. Biden said during his remarks. ‘We’re gonna get a lot of them done, I might add.”
One of the biggest blows to the Biden administration this week was the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to halt Pres. Biden’s federal vaccine mandate for private sector employers with at least 100 workers. The mandate was a key part of Pres. Biden’s recent COVID-related efforts and may set the stage for other vaccine mandates to be questioned.
Meanwhile, several economic indicators made a poor showing this week. Jobless claims increased, and new data showed that retail sales fell 1.9% in December. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics also released figures on two major inflation markers this week, the consumer price index and the producer price index, both showing major spikes in inflation.
The producer price index increased 0.2% in December, following a year of significant price increases.
“This rise followed advances of 1.0 percent in November and 0.6 percent in October,” BLS said. “On an unadjusted basis, final demand prices moved up 9.7 percent in 2021, the largest calendar-year increase since data were first calculated in 2010.”
That data came just one day after BLS released consumer price index numbers, which reported consumer prices have increased at the fastest pace since 1982.
On top of economic difficulties, the Biden administration also took legislative losses this week. On Tuesday, the president pushed for “getting rid of” the Senate filibuster to push through Congress legislation that would amount to a federal takeover of state elections. Pres. Biden called his Republican opponents racist and enemies of Democracy but was roundly criticized by both parties after the speech.
Even members of his own party rebuffed the comments, with one Democratic senator calling the push rushed.
“There’s no need for me to restate my longstanding support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation,” U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said from the Senate floor Thursday. “There’s no need for me to restate its role in protecting our country from wild reversals of federal policy. This week’s harried discussions about Senate rules are but a poor substitute for what I believe could have and should have been a thoughtful public debate at any time over the past year.”
Sen. Sinema was not the only Democrat to oppose the filibuster effort as she was joined by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. And Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the speech “profoundly unpresidential.”
Republicans took note of Pres. Biden’s setbacks on social media.
“It really has been a horrible, no good, very bad week for Joe Biden,” tweeted Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party.
Inflation, joblessness and vaccine mandates have been issues for the Biden administration for months, though, and poll numbers this week showed voters are unhappy with the president’s work one year into his presidency.
A Quinnipiac poll released this week reported Pres. Biden’s job approval rating had dipped to 33%. On the economy, the poll found 34% of those surveyed approve of Pres. Biden’s work while 57% disapprove.
“Americans give President Joe Biden a negative 33–53 percent job approval rating, while 13 percent did not offer an opinion,” Quinnipiac said. “In November 2021, Americans gave Biden a negative 36–53 percent job approval rating with 10 percent not offering an opinion.”
Pres. Biden saw better approval ratings on his COVID-19 response in 2021, but now only 39% of those surveyed approve of his work on the pandemic, while 55% disapprove.
Quinnipiac also found that 35% approve of Biden’s job on foreign policy, while 54% disapprove.
At the same time, Pres. Biden’s support among Democrats has dropped significantly in recent weeks.
“Among Democrats in today’s poll, 75 percent approve, 14 percent disapprove and 11 percent did not offer an opinion,” Quinnipiac said. “Among Democrats in November’s poll, 87 percent approved, 7 percent disapproved and 6 percent did not offer an opinion.”