White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Monday that President Biden’s public approval rating is falling largely because of the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic rather than the administration’s economic policies or priorities.
“Well, we think, one, there’s a couple factors,” Psaki said when asked to explain a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday that showed Biden’s approval rating at 41 percent, with 53 percent of respondents disapproving.
“One is people are still — there’s a fatigue from COVID,” the press secretary added. “We see that in poll after poll … People are sick and tired of COVID and the impacts on the economy. We understand that; we’re tired of it too. That’s why this is the number-one priority, [it] continues to be getting COVID under control.”
Psaki’s remark recalled Biden’s campaign promise that if elected, he would bring the pandemic to heel. At one point during his second debate with then-President Donald Trump last fall, Biden famously vowed: “I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country.”
Although the US has made significant progress against the pandemic thanks to vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded seven-day averages of more than 80,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,000 deaths as of Sunday.
The Washington Post-ABC News survey was taken between Nov. 7 and Nov. 10, after the House of Representatives passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that received 63 percent support in the poll.
Psaki claimed Monday that the infrastructure legislation and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan enacted in March are “some of the most popular major pieces of legislation in the last 20 years” before lamenting that “our time has been consumed here by getting this bill across the finish line.”
“I’ve been doing press and communications for some time. I will tell you that you don’t design a communication strategy around infighting within the Democratic Party in Washington,” she said. “That is not how you typically design it. That has been a necessity in order to get this legislation done.”
The poll also found that 70 percent of respondents described the state of the US economy as “not so good” or “poor” compared to 29 percent who described it as “excellent” or “good.”
In addition, despite the passage of two spending bills that Biden made central to his agenda, 63 percent of those polled said the president had accomplished “not much” or “little or nothing” in his first 10 months in office.
White House officials have repeatedly cited the pandemic as the reason behind America’s ongoing economic struggles, most notably inflation and supply chain problems.
“The pandemic has been calling the shots for the economy and for inflation,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “If we want to get inflation down, continuing to make progress against the pandemic is the most important thing we can do.”
Republicans, meanwhile, have put the blame on Biden for his multitrillion-dollar legislative agenda, which they say has lowered the value of the dollar and driven up prices.
There is an ongoing debate among economists regarding who is to blame for price spikes, with some pointing out that 38 developing countries around the world are currently running at their highest levels of inflation faced since 2008.