Oct 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden's surgical strikes

Biden waves as he steps off Air Force One

US President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One prior to departure from Eagle County Airport in Vail, Colorado, October 12, 2022, after designating nearby Camp Hale as a National Monument. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

In the final stretch before midterm elections, President Biden is flexing his executive authority, with targeted trips on Air Force One and White House decrees to boost key demographic groups.

The big picture: Since passing a pair of transformative bills this summer, Biden has been using executive actions to motivate slices of the Democratic coalition.

Driving the news: At a stop Friday in Irvine Calif., Biden will sign an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to look at ways to lower prescription drug costs, according to a White House official.

  • Then he'll fly to Portland, Oregon, where he'll accuse Republicans of planning to gut Medicare.

Between the lines: It's also a chance for him to recast yesterday's blistering September 8.2% inflation headline by highlighting what his Inflation Reduction Act will do to lower prescription drug costs.

Be smart: On the road, the executive actions can be calibrated to a specific locality — or a key Senate race.

  • In Colorado on Wednesday, he declared the area surrounding Camp Hale a national monument, effectively preventing oil and gas drilling across some 436 square miles —and giving Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) a pre-election victory.
  • Biden also highlighted an announcement from the Interior department to pay farmers, cities and native tribes in the lower Colorado River basin to use less water, as part of a $4 billion drought mitigation plan.
  • That new money can help address the draining of Lake Mead, a problem that both Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) have pledged to address.

Missing are the raucous rallies and big crowds of President Obama and President Trump before their first midterm elections, as they crisscrossed the country making their closing arguments.

  • In August, after previously claiming that he needed congressional authorization to act on student loan relief, he announced that he would cancel up to $20,000 in student debt.
  • Over the summer, he signed two executive orders on abortion — to protect access to abortion care and contraceptives and help women travel out of state to receive abortions.

What we’re watching: Biden doesn’t appear eager to land Air Force One in states where he’s underwater in the polls and incumbent Democratic senators are fighting to hang on.

  • He skipped Nevada and Arizona on this week’s West Coast swing, home to two of the most competitive Senate races.
  • And he’s yet to headline any campaign rallies this month where he is in front of big audiences to make his closing argument. By contrast, in October of 2018, Trump held 15 rallies across the country, according to data compiled by Brendan Doherty, a U.S. Naval Academy professor. President Obama hosted 12 rallies in October of 2010.
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