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The November Presidential Election

 

The November Election       Gerry OShea

A chastening mood pervades the Democratic Party as they plan for the crucial presidential election in November. By most measurements, the economy, still the most trenchant issue for voters, is strong, but current polls in nearly all the swing states show Donald Trump leading by a few percentage points.

Unemployment numbers are the lowest for sixty years, with a massive increase of over fifteen million jobs under Biden. During Trump's four years in the Oval Office, 1.9 million  wage earners were made redundant. This massive turnaround cannot be attributed to happenstance, but the polls suggest that the millions of workers who benefited are not inclined to show their appreciation in November.

President Biden regularly proclaims that his definition of a vibrant economy must, in his words, help people at the bottom move up and those in the middle to expand outwards.

 Workers’ standard of living has improved since the new administration came into office in January 2021, but people are dissatisfied and blaming the Democrats. In a recent poll, 50% of the respondents said that the country is in recession.

Under the current administration, Black male unemployment has plummeted to record lows, but, amazingly, the president is shedding votes to Republicans and Independents in the non-white population, especially among young African Americans.

The stock market, seen by many as a barometer of national progress, is flying, up 44% in the last four years. The famous Dow Jones Industrial Average is dancing with the stars, recently touching historic highs of 40,000.

With so much good news, why is President Biden faring so poorly against former President Donald Trump? Why is the Republican nominee, despite many personal and political liabilities, ahead when people are asked who they are likely to vote for in the crucial election in five months?

Mr. Biden’s biggest problem centers around inflation. Sixty percent of Americans live from week to week, so increased prices in local stores and supermarkets really set them back. The price of a hamburger at McDonald's has doubled in the last four years.

 This dramatic increase in one of the nation’s most popular fast foods corresponds with successive jumps in the cost of staple foods like bread, butter, and meat. Wages have increased, but most people say that it is harder to make ends meet now than just a few years ago.

The Gaza crisis is also hurting the President. The progressive base of the Democratic Party is protesting Israeli policies in dealing with the millions of poverty-stricken people with homes in Gaza, all now effectively refugees. Already, over 34,000 of these unfortunates have been killed, and more than double that number have suffered injuries by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) personnel assigned to find and punish members of Hamas.

Schools, universities and hospitals in the area have been reduced to rubble. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, blames the Hamas attack last October, which resulted in the deaths of around 1400 Israelis and the capture of hundreds of hostages. He claims that their military program is designed to gain revenge for the attack launched against the state of Israel.

Most countries reject Netanyahu’s rationale for what many commentators name an ongoing reign of terror. The International Court of Justice has called for him to face an international tribunal for his military tactics and his stingy curtailing of relief supplies for hungry Palestinians.

President Biden has blocked some military supplies for the IDF, but many of the college and university protesters feel a much stronger response is needed. Polls show a significant leakage from Biden supporters who, while they will not support Trump, who is still talking about excluding Muslims from America, but may well scatter their votes among minor parties.

The current president’s taxation policies should enamor him with middle-class Americans. He promises that if the November results give Democrats control of both houses of Congress and he is in the White House, he will reverse the 2019 Trump budget, which gave massive tax cuts to big corporations and wealthy individuals and deepened the hole in the national deficit, a perennial Republican complaint.

On the same theme of Republicans favoring the rich at every turn, at a recent fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago feting oil and gas executives, Mr. Trump challenged them to come up with a billion dollars for his campaign and, if they fulfill their side of the proffered bargain, he assured them that they would see all the environmental regulations introduced by President Biden swept away.

The Republicans, surprisingly, are also talking about reforming the two most popular citizen payout programs, Social Security and Medicare. Many of their leading spokesmen favor increasing the eligibility age for benefits and, when pressed, assert that these important and popular programs should be privatized, meaning that their level of funding would depend on Wall Street markets.

These are major economic issues on which broad swathes of middle-class voters agree with the Democrats, but so far, the Biden-Harris campaign has not sufficiently highlighted the crucial economic differences between the two main political parties, especially in economic policies.

Retirement age and the availability of medical care are vital considerations in every family. Two-thirds of the electorate view the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, positively. Republicans promise they will repeal it if they control Congress and the White House.

These two issues, the economy and especially inflation and the Gaza crisis, present major challenges for President Biden’s re-election in November.

Gerry OShea blogs at wemustbetalking.com

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