Democratic lawmakers, members of President Biden’s cabinet, and allied organizers and activists are launching a multi-pronged public relations campaign aimed at ensuring voters understand and appreciate the benefits of the climate change and drug pricing bill. of $700 billion that Biden signed on Tuesday. .
Top Democrats believe the popular and long-sought policy changes in the so-called Reducing Inflation Act will help their party retain majorities in Congress in November’s midterm elections.
In Irvine on Thursday, Rep. Katie Porter, a swing seat Democrat, stood in front of a huge orange Hitachi bulldozer at the Irvine Ranch Water District, which is expanding its reservoir with funds from the $1 infrastructure renovation package. billion last year. Appearing alongside Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Porter noted that the Democrats’ latest legislation (core pillars include $369 billion to combat climate change and long-sought changes to lower the cost of prescription drugs) will continue to support the water district and similar facilities across the country.
“This new law invests $4 billion in water conservation, efficiency and restoration, and that complements the more than $50 billion already appropriated in the bipartisan infrastructure act to help us modernize our water infrastructure and improve our drinking water supply.” Porter said.
A day earlier, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in western Colorado with Sen. Michael Bennet, touting investments in the latest bill to combat climate change.
Speaking to a group of farmers and ranchers inside a Palisade cider production plant, Bennett, a vulnerable Democrat seeking a third six-year term, emphasized the law $4 billion in drought mitigation fundshis $20 billion for land conservation projects and $5 billion to improve forest health and prevent fires.
“We’ve passed some interesting legislation,” Bennett told the group. “And every step of the way, we’ve been trying to make sure we’re supporting our growers,” he continued, touting the new forestry funding as “a record amount.”
From the earliest days of his presidency, Biden has said his party must clearly and consistently explain its actions to the public. Recalling the Obama administration’s fight to sell the Affordable Care Act in 2010 before an eventual midterm beatdown, Biden urged Democrats to brazenly tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan. that they promoted in March 2021.
“Barack was so modest that he didn’t want to take, as he put it, a ‘victory lap’.” Biden told House Democrats at the time. “He kept saying, ‘Tell people what we did.’ He said: ‘We don’t have time. I’m not going for a victory lap. And we pay a price for it, ironically, for that humility.”
Biden’s team hopes its more comprehensive effort will lead to a different result for Democrats this November. Republicans, who after the passage of the health care law in 2010 stoked fears about “death panels,” rising premiums and fewer choices of doctors or plans, also attacked the new bill as costly. and partisan. They have questioned whether it will actually lower the cost of goods and services and suggested that the $80 billion earmarked to reduce Internal Revenue Service backlogs will lead to more audits on low- and middle-income households.
But today’s GOP is often more concerned with what excites the party base — culture wars, grievances, and tests of loyalty to former President Trump — than it is with political debates and the legislative process.
“The ‘get things done’ framework just isn’t appealing to Republicans,” said Sarah Longwell, a Republican consultant and outspoken Trump critic who regularly convenes focus groups of voters of all persuasions. “That said, Biden finds his groove, he approves of some things, that does a lot for him with Democrats, who have wanted a lot of these things for a long, long time.”
The key for the White House, and for Democrats on the ballot across the country, will be convincing less partisan voters to view their agenda positively, and differently from the Republican agenda.
“The last few weeks have strengthened motivation among Democratic voters and, at the same time, have been an accelerator to make elections an option. [between the two parties], not a referendum on us,” said an administration official, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the Democrats’ electoral chances. “The incumbent always needs to be an option.”
According to recent polls, the new law and its individual components are already widely popular. a morning consultation poll Wednesday showed 76% support capping prescription drug prices. Provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers and a $2,000 annual cap on Medicare out-of-pocket drug costs gained support from 70% of those surveyed.
“This is something that means something to working families,” said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster who helped guide Biden’s 2020 campaign and remains close to the White House.
After several difficult months in which Biden’s approval rating hovered just above or below 40%, the recent surge in congressional productivity has changed the political landscape.
“It’s good to be back on offense,” Anzalone said. “He has now done what he said he wanted to do during the campaign. there will be $5 [billion] to $6 billion spent between now and Election Day [on the campaign]. What the president has done is: He’s given front-line Democrats the tools to have a really competitive message about what they’ve done for the American people, and also to draw a contrast to the Republicans, who voted against All this”.
Biden plans to celebrate the bill with Democratic lawmakers at the White House just after Labor Day, an important milestone as the midterm election cycle enters its final two-month stretch. By that time, Cabinet officials will have held 35 events in 23 states, according to the White House. Millions of Americans will have seen some of the television ads that Democrats are funding to broaden awareness and build support for the new law.
Much of the Democrats’ messaging blitz will be directed at specific constituencies. Build Back Together, a pro-Biden organization launched by the President’s campaign, launched $1 million in TV, radio and digital media ads airing in English and Spanish this week in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington, DC
At the same time, three progressive organizations are putting $10 million behind another advertising campaign highlighting the “transformative” character of the legislation. An ad, focused on investing $369 billion to reduce carbon emissions, will appear primarily on cable television and streaming services most used by younger voters.
“Young climate activists set a high bar for climate action, which was vital to the success of the bill,” said Pete Maysmith, senior vice president of campaigns for the League of Conservation Voters, which is funding the push along with Climate Power and Future. Forward US Action “Our goal now is to highlight the big climate elements of the law so that they continue to be motivated around this issue.”
In Kentucky on Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared to dampen expectations that the GOP would regain control of the evenly split chamber.
He told reporters that “the House is probably more likely to change its mind than the Senate,” which seems to betray some frustration over polls showing some Trump-backed Republican Senate candidates trailing in field states. battlefields like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, the latter two where incumbent Democrats seemed most vulnerable months ago. “The quality of the candidates has a lot to do with the outcome,” McConnell said.
By contrast, Democrats are suddenly full of optimism.
“People assumed the Republicans were locked into the midterm election just like they assumed the Atlanta Falcons were going to win that Super Bowl,” Anzalone said, referring to the New England Patriots’ comeback behind then-quarterback Tom Brady. after trailing 28-3 in the third quarter in Super Bowl LI in the 2016 NFL season. “Biden is going to be Tom Brady on this stage.”
Stokols reported from Washington, Vega from Irvine.
This story originally appeared on Los Angeles Times.