Jul 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Anita Dunn slides to make Biden's case on Hill

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Document obtained by Axios

President Biden is dispatching senior adviser Anita Dunn to Capitol Hill on Thursday to brief congressional Democrats on selling Biden’s economic agenda.

Why it matters: By sending Dunn, a messaging and polling expert, to brief both chambers, the White House is acknowledging that it faces both legislative and political hurdles in getting its infrastructure bills passed.

What's happening: Armed with polling data and a slide presentation, Dunn is trying to help the lawmakers explain Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda with fast answers and simple slogans.

  • She’ll urge Democrats to focus on three items in his agenda — “1. More Jobs 2. Tax Cuts 3. Lower Costs for Working Families” — according to a copy of the presentation obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Even though a procedural vote failed in the Senate Tuesday, a group of bipartisan negotiators, led by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the Republican side, continues to work on turning their $579 billion infrastructure framework into actual legislation.

  • “He's a decent, honorable man, and he and I are working on trying to get this infrastructure bill passed,” Biden said of Portman Tuesday during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati.
  • With the bipartisan negotiation still proceeding, Senate Democrats are also working on a separate $3.5 trillion package on so-called human infrastructure, including billions for universal preschool, free community college and expanded Medicare benefits.
  • “If we pass the other two things that I want to get done we will, in fact, reduce inflation,” Biden said on CNN.

The big picture: Both bills face challenges in both chambers, with several House Democrats threatening to vote against the bipartisan package emerging from the Senate.

  • Republicans also warn that they may vote against any increase in the debt ceiling, setting the stage for a massive battle — with potentially all three issues colliding — this fall.

Between the lines: While Biden didn’t include changes to how Medicare renegotiates with pharmaceutical companies as a way to pay for either of his infrastructure proposals, Sen. Bernie Sanders targeted the drug industry with more than $600 billion in savings to offset his budget package.

  • The White House is now endorsing the idea that pharmaceutical companies should help foot the bill.
  • “Build Back Better Solution: Lower prescription drug costs for Americans by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, so consumers are no longer at the whim of pharmaceutical companies.”

Go deeper: The White House is doubling down on its Zoom strategy of relying on local media to make its case to the American people, having done more than 1000 interviews:

  • “Local media continues to be one of the most trusted news sources, communicating the impact of national policy on the communities they serve.”

Read the slide deck.

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