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A number of Democrats are expressing shock and disbelief that President Joe Biden is leaving Washington, D.C., amid crucial talks with Republicans about raising the debt ceiling to avoid a government default, which analysts say could trigger a massive economic meltdown.
According to Politico, Biden is leaving the White House — again — this weekend, heading to Camp David and then to his home in Delaware, further outraging Democrats who already believe he is being too timid in responding to Republican arguments for spending cuts in exchange for raising the limit.
“It’s time to bring the president off the bench, or bring somebody off the bench,” an anonymous elected Democrat told the outlet. “No one’s responding to anything. Kevin’s consistently on message. We have the Oval Office. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“The scale of the cuts is staggering, which really the public knows very little about,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the Democrat’s leading appropriator, said of majority Republican conditions for a hike. “The president should be out there.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) believes that the GOP speaker has been allowed to shape public opinion of the standoff with the White House in “very dishonest ways.”
“I do think it’s important that the president speaks on this,” she said, according to Politico.
Worse, now Biden is leaving D.C. for the weekend as the June 1 deadline approaches, the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said set as the day the government runs out of money.
“Please tell me that’s not true,” another presumedly Democratic lawmaker to Politico. “You’re going to see a caucus that’s so pissed if he’s stupid enough to do that.”
The Daily Wire noted that current polling shows “that most Americans agree with McCarthy’s demands for budget cuts, as well as work requirements for welfare.”
As for Biden’s ditching D.C., Politico noted further:
Biden’s aides have largely ignored the chorus of those calling for him to be more public. His minimal presence has been purposeful, according to an administration official granted anonymity to discuss strategy.
The White House believes the president’s bully pulpit should be used strategically — that oversaturating the airwaves could lead to contradictory messaging, and that silence conveys reasonableness and calm, the official said. Throughout the talks, administration officials have throttled their public presence based on how negotiations are going. They sometimes rely on Hill Democrats to use the sharpest cudgel, allowing Biden to remain above the fray.
“The American people need to understand just what’s at stake, and I’m not sure that for the broad public, that case has been made,” Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-N.Y.) told the outlet, adding that he doesn’t know of any White House surrogates speaking on the issue. “Other than the press secretary, I really have not.”
Meanwhile, other Dems are pressing the media to take up their side, which is usually the case anyway.
“Help us,” DeLauro pressed reporters. “I don’t want you to feel that you’re being co-opted, but you have a responsibility as well.”
Privately, allies of President Biden have been more candid, expressing discomfort with Jean-Pierre’s repeated use of recycled talking points and raising concerns about her hesitance or perceived inability to delve into the substantive aspects of the discussions, Politico reported.
Democrats fret further that there has been limited availability of White House surrogates to address economic matters, especially since the departure of former chief of staff Ron Klain and former National Economic Council director Brian Deese earlier this year.
Jared Bernstein, an economic adviser who often appeared on television, has reduced his public appearances as he awaits confirmation by the Senate to lead the Council of Economic Advisers.
While Klain was active on Twitter, his successor, Jeff Zients, only occasionally utilizes the platform, particularly in engaging with political reporters regarding the ongoing debt ceiling dispute, Politico reported.