President Joe Biden is setting out to pitch his hard-won bipartisan infrastructure deal, selling battleground voters on the roads and bridges at the center of the package while hoping to leave fraught negotiations in Washington behind.
In La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, Biden is expected to argue how the $973 billion package will boost jobs and support families in a “transformative” way. Wisconsin is a top presidential battleground, which Biden has visited twice since taking office. He carried the state narrowly in 2020 after Trump won voters by less than a percentage point in 2016.
On Monday, the White House shared an internal memo describing the proposal as a generational investment in the country’s infrastructure — four times the spending amount in the 2009 Recovery Act while Biden was vice president.
The memo cites an analysis that 90% of the jobs generated won’t require a college degree.
“This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America,” the memo said.
In remarks last week, National Economic Council director Brian Deese said a strategy was needed to shore up the country’s industrial sectors. This would bolster economic growth and national security, he said.
Politically, the message could help Biden win crucial votes. The president last year won a lower share of working-class voters, his party’s traditional base, than former President Barack Obama in 2012, according to Democratic data firm Catalist.
Drafted by Deese and senior adviser Anita Dunn, Monday’s eight-page memo said poorly maintained roads and bridges were costly to the U.S. economy.
“Americans are forced to pay $1,000 every year in wasted time and fuel,” costing the economy over $160 billion per year, the memo reads.
The infrastructure deal is one of two major legislative efforts the White House has outlined. While the first centers on traditional “hard” infrastructure, a second sweeping effort is underway, which only Democrats are expected to support.
The deal was nearly derailed last week as the president stepped onto a ledge, announcing he would refuse to sign the deal unless it landed on his desk in tandem with the sweeping families plan. Some Republican lawmakers said Biden’s move to back the two-step process could end their support.
Over the weekend, the president walked back the line stating, “A veto threat … was certainly not my intent.”
In the Senate, Democrats are looking to pass the bill by securing the Republican votes necessary to pass the 60-vote threshold required for most legislation to advance.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on Biden to urge Democrats in Congress to separate the bills or face the prospect the bipartisan deal could be held “hostage.”
Americans living in battleground states want to see results, according to a June survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted by Georgetown University. Respondents also voiced concerns about political polarization in Washington.
Sixty-nine percent said they favored politicians who pursue compromise over ideological purity, “even if it means compromising on their values sometimes.”
Thirty-two percent pointed to polarization as one of their top two issues, ranking it 7 points higher than the next most important topic.
The poll had a plus or minus 3.1 percentage point margin of error.
“Voters are troubled by the division in the country and given a choice, prefer a solutions-oriented politician over an ideologically pure one,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group, who worked on the survey.
In an op-ed Monday, Biden leveraged these points, telling readers the deal was a compromise between the negotiators.
“Neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted in this agreement. But that’s what it means to compromise and reach consensus — the very heart of democracy,” Biden wrote. “When we negotiate in good faith, and come together to get big things done, we begin to break the ice that too often has kept us frozen in place and prevented us from solving the real problems Americans face.”
The president also reiterated the percentage of blue-collar jobs the plan is projected to create, promising there won’t be a gas tax increase.
Biden, who also aims to build support for the social-spending plan Democrats are pushing, will land in friendly territory. La Crosse is an oasis for Democrats: It’s one of 14 Wisconsin counties that voted for Biden over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Trump secured the remaining 58 counties.
In a recent memo, the White House also praised the American Rescue Plan’s impact on battleground voters. Citing data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, officials said personal income in Wisconsin had spiked 67% at an annual rate during the first quarter of 2021.
Arizona’s GDP had increased by 7.4% over the same period.
On Saturday, Biden will travel to Michigan, another battleground state, to tout the administration’s efforts against the coronavirus.
Republican strategist Kirsten Kukowski predicted “a mixed reception” from Wisconsinites for Biden’s pitch.
“While farmers and the agriculture industry like the investment, they are opposed to spending that is driving up costs and increasing taxes,” Kukowski told the Washington Examiner.
Meanwhile, she added, “the business community is still reeling from COVID and looking for support.”
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Original Author: Katherine Doyle
Original Location: In Wisconsin, Biden to pitch blue-collar infrastructure jobs