The dilemma facing divided Democrats trying to implement President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda is that while they may be popular, that doesn’t mean that they will become law.
According to polls, the public is supportive of the huge package’s education, health care and other initiatives. Democrats haven’t been able to sell the package to voters. They’ve been distracted from the party’s internal battle over the plan’s multitrillion dollar price tag. Voters are still confused by what’s in the measure, and they are skeptical that it will help them personally.
History has shown that even widely supported ideas can fail to pass Congress. A popular measure may not be voted on by the voters in the next election. The Democrats are drafting their bill in the context of a divided country and large majority disapproval of Washington’s handling of its job.
Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster, stated that “Cynicism” and “lack of trust in institutions” are the main reasons for this. People don’t believe that much gets done. Then, it becomes somewhat self-fulfilling. They don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in Washington.
Whit Ayres is a Republican pollster who says that “the popularity of certain policies has been overtaken by the power of party partisanship or polarization.”
The package includes many components that have high poll scores and has been a source of contention between centrist Democrats and progressive Democrats for months. The original proposal was for a 10-year plan worth $3.5 trillion. However, moderates have reduced its price.
Biden told lawmakers this week that he believes he can reach a compromise with centrists to get a package closer than $2 trillion. Democrats have been looking at ways to reduce the duration and cost of priority programs such as the child credit, paid family leaves, and expanded federal health benefits.
These talks are ongoing and there is no guarantee of success. The party would have so many to lose from the failure of Biden’s top tier domestic goal — and a bipartisan, $1 trillion package infrastructure projects — that there is tremendous pressure to make a deal.
The larger social and environmental measures are opposed by all Republicans.
According to polling, the majority of the public supports the overall plan. However, many of the individual items have strong support. This gives Democrats an advantage. Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in May supported letting the government negotiate lower prices for drugs.
A July Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that nearly two-thirds of respondents supported bolstering affordable housing and caregiving for the aged. It also suggested raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to help pay for a large portion of the cost. Other polls support creating paid family leave and reducing climate change.
Surveys have revealed that party leaders who are frustrated have failed to communicate the plan’s benefits and contents to constituents throughout the long legislative process.
Two polls this month showed a bleak outlook for Democrats.
CNN found that just 1 in 4 respondents said their family would be better off if legislation were passed, which includes only half of Democrats. Gallup found that 43% of respondents want stronger government action to address problems. This is down from 54% who stated the same thing a year ago.
Many believe that communicating is more important than ever because of the attention on legislators battling over their proposals’ cost and policies.
Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, stated that it is more important to communicate the content than the process. “Sell the brownie, not just the mix,” Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, said.
Although Democrats are likely to come together in the end, it is possible for popular ideas to fail to pass Congress.
The 2013 effort to increase background checks for gun sales was unsuccessful months after the massacre of elementary school students in Newtown, Connecticut. The same happened with a 2018 effort that aimed to assist young “Dreamer’ immigrants in becoming citizens.
Both were supported by strong Democratic support in the Senate, with some GOP support. Each fell prey to Republican-led filibusters, which require 60 votes in the Senate to be overcome. The Democrats have created a special process to approve the domestic measure this year by simple majority vote. However, they will need support from all parties in the Senate and a strong House backing to do so.
The current domestic bill shows how widespread acceptance of an issue can mask intense dislike from one side’s voter, making it easier to oppose it by lawmakers of the other party.
According to the AP-NORC survey 76% of Democrats supported free community college, while 27% of Republicans opposed it. 73% of Democrats favor extending more generous tax credits to children, while 34% of Republicans support it. Democrats also support housing aid more than Republicans, as well as free preschool.
Democrats know that passing major legislation to support Biden’s goals may not be enough to prevent major setbacks next year’s midterm election. This is especially true for the House, where historic losses in such contests have been routine.
The 1994 election saw Democrats lose 54 seats and the House control, despite having approved significant budget and gun control measures by President Bill Clinton. They lost 64 seats in 2010 and their House majority, months after President Barack Obama’s overhaul of health care.
Only three of the 40 midterm elections held since the Civil War have seen the White House party win House seats. This party won 13 seats in the Senate elections.
If they win five more seats next year, Republicans will be on track to take control of the House. If they win one seat, they would be able to control the Senate.