President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are about to embark on a nationwide ‘victory lap’ to take credit for the $1.9 billion stimulus they had virtually no hand in crafting, and which failed to contain a key promise Biden made to the American public; that if Democrats won Georgia in a January runoff – which they did – that $2,000 checks would be sent to every eligible person in the country.
On Friday, Biden and Harris, and their spouses, will kick off his tour with a ceremony described by ‘aides and allies’ as a campaign to convince America that the Democrats are responsible for saving millions of Americans from poverty and illness – with $1,400 checks.
Of course, $1.9 trillion divided by roughly 330 million Americans puts the tab at around $5700 per person, with interest.
And according to Bloomberg, the White House will be kicking off a parallel effort to mobilize state and local leaders, business groups, economists and unions to urge constituents to tap into the latest round of federal aid. Also joining the effort will be members of Biden’s cabinet, who will target “local media to call attention to the benefits for schools, vaccine distribution and food assistance,” according to a White House official.
And the administration is planning a series of theme days drawing attention to each of the 10 ways the bill will help Americans, from providing direct checks to Americans to providing support for small businesses and to reopen schools, White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a senior staff memo sent Wednesday and obtained by Bloomberg News.
Friday’s celebration and subsequent marketing campaign underscore what’s at stake for Biden and Democrats, who need to show Americans that they’re helping the nation recover from the public health and economic devastation that they blamed largely on the Trump administration. –Bloomberg
The plan is to avoid repeating former President Obama’s mistake of underselling an $800 billion stimulus package signed in 2009 during the financial crisis.
“Barack was so modest, he didn’t want to take, as he said, a ‘victory lap,’” Biden said of Obama last week. “I kept saying, ‘Tell people what we did.’ He said, ‘We don’t have time. I’m not going to take a victory lap.’ And we paid a price for it, ironically, for that humility.”
Perhaps Obama couldn’t reasonably take credit for legislation that was crafted by the Bush Administration, Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner – which was then dropped into Obama’s lap as he took office for a signature. Then again, Biden is a serial plagiarist, so taking credit for other people’s accomplishments probably comes naturally.
Former Obama staffer and current White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Bloomberg that Biden officials are aware they “need to do some work and use our best voices” to sell the stimulus.
“We didn’t do enough to explain to the American people what the benefits were of the rescue plan,” said Psaki, adding “We didn’t do enough to do it in terms that people would be talking about it at their dinner tables.”
Former Biden aide Liz Allen also noted how the administration needs better messaging.
“This is not only getting your checks, but this is why your favorite small businesses on Main Street are able to stay afloat, or these tax credits are why this mother can stay home with her kids,” she said.
To keep focus on the rescue package, the Biden team deliberately pushed back a joint address to Congress in which he’s planning to unveil his next big legislative target: a bill that’s expected to cost trillions of dollars and include infrastructure and climate.
Delaying other parts of his agenda “is a better strategy, if it works,” said John Podesta, another former Obama official and founder of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank. “The risk is you sort of delay, and the momentum of a new presidency begins to slow down.” –Bloomberg
Meanwhile, Psaki appeared on local news in Philadelphia and Cleveland, while the White House has been asking cabinet heads and senior officials to participate in press briefings or events across the country in order to raise their profiles – the hope being that they can inject some energy into the current administration’s public image.
Of course, with Biden looking mostly corpulent while attempting to read from a teleprompter – before he’s stage-hooked away from reporters’ questions, we’re sure to at least have some entertaining material over the course of this so-called ‘victory tour.’