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With low approval ratings, Biden faces mask mandate dilemma

They were filled with confusing messages on critical topics, projecting the image of a directionless White House led by a president whose tendency to hijack the message only compounds his problems.

* A federal judge in Florida on Monday overturned the administration’s federal travel mask warrant. In response to this decision, the Biden administration initially did not specify what its next steps would be. Then late Tuesday, the administration said it would appeal the ruling — if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines the warrant is still needed. Amid all of this, Biden added to the confusion, telling reporters during a trip to New Hampshire on Tuesday that it was “up to them” when it came to people wearing masks on public transportation. .
* The administration is revolting against its previously announced decision to rescind Title 42, a public health measure put in place in March 2020 – at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – that allowed Border Patrol agents to turn around and keep asylum-seeking migrants away. Earlier this week, Michigan Senator Gary Peters, who heads the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee, said of Title 42 that “unless we have a well thought out plan, I think it’s is something that should be reconsidered and possibly delayed”. This follows questions raised by a number of Democrats on the ballot this year, fearing that overturning Title 42 could lead to a flood of undocumented immigrants at the border. In the face of all this, Axios reported on Tuesday that the administration is considering “delaying the repeal of Title 42 border restrictions.”
* Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of the nation’s leading liberal voices, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times suggesting that Biden and Democrats need to start playing offense, legislatively. “Despite pandemic relief, infrastructure investment and the historic Supreme Court confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, we promised more — and voters remember those promises,” Warren wrote. And this blunt little rhetoric: “To put it bluntly: If we fail to use the remaining months before the election to further deliver on our agenda, the Democrats are heading for big midterm losses.
This all comes as Biden is at or near his lowest in terms of job approvals during his tenure. In CNN’s latest poll — an average of the last four national polls — Biden’s approval rating is just 39% among Americans, with his disapproval at 55%.

In short: Biden didn’t have much goodwill with the public until this week. But the mixed messages coming from the White House — and the broader Democratic Party — make it seem like there’s no plan to turn the tide before the midterm elections, which now have just over a half. 200 days off.

Perhaps in an attempt to address that sense of lack of direction, Biden issued a series of tweets Wednesday morning blaming inflation on Covid-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urging Congress to act. “I called on Congress to act immediately to reduce the cost of family utility bills, prescription drugs, etc., while cutting the deficit to reduce inflationary pressure,” Biden tweeted.

It’s not clear there’s much desire among Democrats — many of whom are eager to get home and campaign ahead of the midterm elections — to follow through on Biden’s push.

It’s a mess for the Democrats. And a mess with no clear or easy solutions.

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