Some advice Joe Biden badly needs


According to the political calendar, it is five months until voters go to the polls in the 2024 elections. Between now and that fateful day, the two political parties will have spent over a billion dollars campaigning. Being a Democrat, it isn’t my business to tell the Republican Party how to run its presidential campaign, but I have some thoughts about the Democratic effort to re-elect President Biden.

Up to now, the president’s campaign has centered on such things as the infrastructure bill he signed into law in 2021 and its funding for new roads, bridges and other needed public-works programs. There is no doubt that such expenditures are important, and should be stressed, but the election is more about other critical issues.

When Bill Clinton ran for the White House, James Carville, his campaign strategist, uttered those now famous words, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Carville was right, and Biden would ignore that dictum at his peril. These days, everything is about the economy. People vote with their pocketbooks, and the issue has to be dealt with by the Democrats.

Over the past few years, prices have skyrocketed, and it isn’t the fault of the president. The executives of the companies that produce gasoline, food and other necessities don’t care about the average person. They have jets to service them, and take luxury trips around the world to ease their tensions. They raise their prices just before the quarterly earnings call to satisfy Wall Street, not Main Street. There’s nothing wrong with telling America who the culprits are and bashing the business tycoons.

A recent Washington Post column by Catherine Rampell tells an interesting story about the economy. The headline is “Nearly everything Americans believe about the economy is wrong.” Rampell wrote that a recent Harris poll revealed that Americans’ thinking about the economy is often at odds with reality.

Most Americans believe the economy is shrinking. In fact, the economy has been growing for the past two years. The poll also found that 49 percent of the country believes that the unemployment rate is at a 50-year high. In fact, unemployment has been below 4 percent for over two years. It isn’t the media’s fault that the voters think that way; it’s because politicians don’t tell the story well.

If you talk to average voters, they believe they were better off four years ago than they are today. That is in fact a total fallacy. In 2020, we were dealing with the coronavirus disaster, and then President Trump had failed to warn the nation about the perils we faced, in order to avoid the political fallout. The public was encouraged to try crazy medicines, none of which saved any lives.

There were so many other bad things happening under Trump that Biden should be talking about. When Trump took office, the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent. When he left it was 6.3 percent. (It is currently under 4 percent.) There were supply chain disruptions and widespread lockdowns, and we were suffering from a recession. Thanks to a tax program that gave the rich big cuts, the national debt swelled by $7.8 trillion, an increase of 40 percent.

As for the current state of politics, Biden will have plenty to talk about. Even though the Trump campaign is much more under control, the candidate isn’t. Trump goes off script all the time, and says lots of crazy things. His base voters won’t abandon him, but the undecideds are up for grabs, and they could be Biden voters. But Biden has to find a message that appeals to them.

Another challenge for the president is the third-party candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Right now Kennedy would get about 14 percent of the estimated vote. He may be appealing to protest voters, but it’s up to the Biden campaign to let the world know how nutty this guy is. There is enough of a record on Kennedy’s past statements to bring his poll numbers down and reduce his possible threat in November.

Incumbents are often underdogs in an election year, and Biden needs to run a campaign that focuses on pocketbook issues and explains them in simple terms. He will get countless other gifts from the uncontrolled candidate that is Donald Trump. But it’s time for Biden to retool his efforts and appeal to the voters he so badly needs.

Jerry Kremer was an Assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?