The Buck Stops Here

by A. Altieri D’Angelo

President Biden has a problem known as “the buck stops here”. And If he does not change his approach, that problem will cause the Democratic Party to suffer catastrophic losses in the November 2022 and 2024 elections.

“The buck stops here” was a phrase popularized by President Harry S. Truman. He had a desk sign on his desk in the White House. In his January 1953 farewell address to the American people, President Truman explicitly referred to this concept by asserting, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job; he makes the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions”.

President Biden suffers from “the buck stops here” syndrome in more ways than President Truman did. The world is more complicated: global supply chains did not exist in 1948; the world was not as dependent on non-U.S. energy sources; there was no such thing as climate change; or Covid -19. But the American people still hold American Presidents responsible for what impacts their lives, even though they may not have the power to make substantive changes.  

The expectations of Americans are apparent in the alarmingly low job performance poll numbers. On April 17, 2022, Real Clear Politics reported that President Biden’s average job approval rating had dropped to a @37%. Other polls indicated that a majority of the people believe the country is heading in the wrong way. It is clear from polling results that Americans are concerned about Russian aggression, but they are more worried about inflation; it is their number 1 issue. And they blame the President because he is in charge.

Many Americans do not care that the President cannot control oil prices or cannot singlehandedly fix the global supply chain problem. They also remember that he made campaign promises regarding the environment, social spending, and working more closely with Republicans to get things done, and these promises are still unfulfilled. Biden cannot escape the responsibility assigned to him. So, what can he do to reverse his polling numbers?

The President needs to talk directly to the people about the inflation issue and make them understand that he sees its impact. In addition, he must do a better job at explaining the limits of his power. Biden needs to point out the many things he accomplished while in office. Unfortunately, his current communications strategy is flawed and weak. The same is true for the Democratic Party.

The Biden Administration does not do enough to explain why oil prices are high and how such prices drive inflation; or that the U.S. does not have the power to drive down oil prices. The Administration does not emphasize that it is releasing vast amounts of oil from the strategic reserve.

Biden’s record on job creation is outstanding, but it is not mentioned repeatedly. The same is true for U.S. unemployment; the rate is at the lowest point in decades. These are significant accomplishments.

Another glaring public relations failure is how the Administration talks about the 2021 $1.9T infrastructure legislation; its passage was a huge achievement. It will have a significant and positive impact on the lives of the U.S. population. But Biden and the Democrats do not talk about it in ways that people understand. They do not boast about how such a plan will help their constituents. The Democratic Party and the President seem to think everyone understands what is in the program and how it will help local communities. Unfortunately, most people do not know how the bill will affect them personally.

But the biggest problem is Joe Biden himself. His low-key style is not what a Covid weary population wants to see. They need to see a showman who will tell a story about the progress made to date. They have become used to Trump’s style. Biden needs to do the same. Ironically, the President does project strength and confidence when he speaks about the war in Ukraine, the Russian atrocities, and the need for democratic nations to defend freedom; he exhibits leadership, determination, and empathy. Unfortunately, Joe Biden, the wartime leader, is not the same person who delivers speeches to Americans on matters of the economy; President Biden is restrained and reticent. His comments on the U.S. economy do not resonate well with Americans.

Biden must stop making excuses and accept responsibility for failing to deliver on some of his promises. He should begin to play offense by visiting with voters across America- talking about what has been accomplished and the bold next steps of his plan. Biden must convince people to believe his policies will help them. The President needs to exhibit the same determination and emotion that he shows when talking about the fight for freedom. He is the only person that will stave off a terrible Democratic Party defeat in November 2022 and 2024 elections. The buck stops here!

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