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As Biden and the Democrats Struggle to Pass Spending Bill, New Poll Suggests They Could Be In Trouble

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As President Joe Biden and Democrats try to get a roughly $1.75 trillion package over the finish line, a new poll shows that fewer than half of Americans approve of how they have handled the spending bill.

And many say they know little to nothing about it.

It is a troubling sign for a party that hopes to make social spending investments the hallmark of their midterm election campaigns next year.

The new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 36 percent of Americans say they approve of Biden’s handling of the negotiations over the bill, while 41 percent disapprove and 23 percent say they neither approve nor disapprove.

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Fewer than half say they know a lot or some about the proposals.

“I don’t place all the blame on him, but I think that, as a president, as a commander-in-chief, I think he could be doing a lot more to get people on board with his plan,” said Gary Hines, a Democratic voter from Philadelphia who emphasized he supports the various elements of Biden’s plan, from expanding the number of people with health insurance, to making child care more affordable, to doing more to curb climate change, according to the Associated Press.

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The findings come at a pivotal moment for Biden and his party.

Compared with his spending bill efforts, Americans are more positive about his job performance overall, with 48 percent approving. Still, 51 percent disapprove.

That split is similar to last month but a notable slump from earlier this year.

The new poll also gives Biden his first underwater approval rating for his handling of the economy and shows increasing pessimism about the direction of the country.

However, the poll shows that ratings of Republicans’ role in the situation are even worse.

Just 18 percent approve of how Republicans in Congress are handling negotiations over the spending package, while 49 percent disapprove. Republicans, who have been shut out from the talks over the bill, are expected to overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, oppose the Democratic package.

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Democrats have pared back Biden’s plans at the insistence of Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Still, they are struggling to reach an agreement on a smaller set of priorities and a means to pay for them. The White House unveiled a long-awaited framework of an agreement Thursday morning, though it was unclear when the legislation would be ready or when a vote would occur.

Kristopher Bennefield of San Augustine, Texas, voiced frustration with Democrats “being so indecisive among themselves,” the AP reported. And he said Biden bears responsibility, because “if he can’t get his own party to do anything, how can he really do anything else?”

“He has great ideas, but he’s having poor follow-through,” said Bennefield, who described himself as an independent.

Meanwhile, some Americans skeptical of the effort remain so.

“I don’t think we can afford it,” said Greg Holman of Grants Pass, Oregon, who is hoping for what he described as a “red wave” in next year’s mid-term elections.

“It’s ridiculous to turn the country into a socialist nation where the government is doing everything for the people,” said James Solar of Houston. “The point is, these programs are not free.”

Despite concerns about the progress being made on the spending package, or the lack thereof, most Americans support several of the broad priorities of the plan.

The poll shows majorities say funding for health care and education programs should be high priorities, and close to half say the same about programs that address climate change.

Fewer say funding for child care (40 percent) or paid family leave (27 percent) should be high priorities, but majorities say they should at least be moderate priorities.

Biden has originally called for up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, allowing workers to get their wages partially replaced in the event of a new child or to care for a seriously ill loved one.

But the paid leave program was not included in the framework unveiled by the White House on Thursday.

Ryan Guyer of Flagstaff, Arizona, views health care, child care and climate change as high priorities.

He said he is not against paid family leave and believes it can provide important dividends. Still, he called it a moderate priority because most people have gotten by for a long time without it, and he wonders if it “can be kicked down the road again,” according to the AP.

As negotiations drag on, Biden’s standing with the public is declining, but other factors may also play a role, from the military’s difficult withdrawal from Afghanistan to rising prices for groceries, gas and other basics.

For the first time in AP-NORC polling, Biden also earned negative marks for his handling of the economy, with 58 percent disapproving and 41 percent approving.

That is even more negative than last month when Americans were closely divided. In March, 60 percent approved of Biden on the economy.

Only about a third of Americans say the nation is headed in the right direction, similar to last month, but a decline from earlier this year. When Biden took office and in the early months of his presidency, roughly half said the nation was on the right track.

And just 26 percent think the way things are going in the country will improve in the next year, down from 43 percent in February. Now, 48 percent say things will worsen in the year ahead.

Guyer, a Democrat, believes the country is on the right track.

“The thing I’m most concerned about is the polarization of our country, but I think a lot of the pandemic issues over the last year, including the supply chains, including people getting back to work, I think those are going in the right direction,” Guyer said, according to the AP.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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