The past year has been a grind for Democrats. The COVID pandemic persists, inflation is at its highest level in four decades and the Afghanistan the withdrawal was botched.
As a result, Biden’s approval ratings have plummeted to historic lows — even lower than those of Trump or Carter (two one-term presidents).
In light of the unease, pundits including myself were predicting that Democrats — currently in control of the House and Senate — would be bombarded in the 2022 midterm elections.
It wasn’t a very adventurous guess – history strongly suggests the Democrats will lose in November.
But now the Dems have some momentum; Biden just had the most successful month of his presidency. And the Supreme Court decision in Dobbsoverriding the right to abortion, seems to be causing an anti-GOP backlash.
Could the recent turn of events help the Democrats save the halfway? Could Democrats keep either the House or the Senate or both? I’m not too optimistic, but it’s certainly possible.
Are the Democrats back?
At the heart of the Democrat’s dynamic pivot is the Cut Inflation Act. Biden will sign the Inflation Reduction Act in law today.
Tweeter this morning, Biden said, “Later today, with the signing of the Cut Inflation Act, we are making history.” According to the one-page Democratic Senate document, the Inflation Reduction Act “will make a historic down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by around 30% by 2030.
The bill will also allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and extend the Affordable Care Act’s expanded program for three years, through 2025.” Democrats expect the law on reducing inflation results in deficit reduction of $300 billion or more by imposing a minimum corporate tax of 15%, strengthening the tax enforcement capacity of the IRS, investing in energy security, etc.
The Inflation Reduction Act follows the CHIPS and Science Act, which Biden signed into law last week. CHIPS goes commit more than $280 billion to increase semiconductor research while increasing support for research and development in key technology areas like AI, quantum computing, advanced energy and biotechnology. According to White House, the CHIPS Act will make “historic investments that will prepare American workers, communities, and businesses to win the race for the 21st century.” It will strengthen American manufacturing, supply chains and national security, and invest in research and development, science and technology. That’s pretty vague – but what CHIPS should do is make the US less dependent on producing semiconductors from “geopolitically sensitive” locations (see Taiwan). But in reality, the goal of CHIPS is to keep the United States competitive against China’s technological rise – a widely held goal, bipartisan Support.
Biden also signed the PACTE law, another bipartisan bill, which came into force last week. “The legislation increases veterans’ access to medical care and disability payments for exposure to burning fireplaces,” NBC reported. “It also forces the Department of Veterans Affairs to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to the exposure, which means veterans don’t have to prove they got sick from the burning fireplaces. in order to receive compensation for their illnesses.” Initially, the bill stalled when Republican senators withdrew their support for “unrelated expenses.” The backfire against the GOP was intense, however, forcing them to relent and back the bill — handing Democrats a double win.
Biden and the Democrats are kind of on a roll – certainly the most successful patch of Biden’s presidency.
Return of GOP
The GOP also faces a less direct, but perhaps more significant, form of backlash over abortion. When the conservative majority Supreme Court voted to revoke abortion rights, it gave Democrats a major rallying point for the upcoming election. And, as voters in Kansas demonstrated, when they voted “no” to a amendment banning abortion, preserving abortion rights are popular – even in red states like Kansas. The Democrats, as a pro-choice party, seem poised to benefit from the unpopular SCOTUS ruling.
Will all of this – the Cut Inflation Act, CHIPS, the pact and abortion – be enough to help the Democrats? to hold onto Congress this fall? Like I said, I’m not optimistic. Gas prices are still outrageous. Ukraine is still on fire. Democrats still insist on pushing deeply unpopular identity politics. Biden is still historically unpopular. Democrats are heading in the right direction — and might be able to salvage their majority in Congress — but they’re running out of time.
Harrison Kass is the senior defense writer at 19FortyFive. A lawyer, pilot, guitarist and minor professional hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a trainee pilot, but was discharged for medical reasons. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.