Jun 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden’s 2024 vision: Play 2020 again

President Biden speaks with American flags behind him.

President Biden speaks during an event with abortion-rights groups in Washington on Friday. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden is betting that 2024 voters will prefer continuity over Republican disruption, so he'll ask for a second term by emphasizing what he did in his first — and campaigning on largely the same proposals he ran on in 2020.

Why it matters: His approach is in stark contrast to former President Trump, the leading GOP candidate, who has published a sweeping far-right agenda that would dramatically increase his own power.

  • Biden's campaign website does not include an issues page for his second-term agenda. He's expected to offer more details about his plans as the general election approaches.
  • For now Biden's team is focusing on Republican policies, blasting the GOP's "extreme MAGA agenda."
  • Front and center in their effort: highlighting GOP-led bans on abortion and general Republican opposition to assault weapons bans.

The big picture: Biden's decision to run on his past legislative victories such as the bipartisan infrastructure law and his climate and health care bill — rather than make big promises for new policies — reflects his top advisers' confidence that the country is heading in the right direction.

  • But that approach — which the campaign has framed as “finish the job” — has risks.
  • Two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the “wrong track,” more than on Election Day in 2020. Biden's approval rating is stuck in the low 40's — better than Trump's, but not by much. If the economy slips into a recession, Biden's numbers could dip.

Driving the news: On Monday, Biden will launch another “Invest in America” tour. Cabinet officials will hit the road to talk up his infrastructure and manufacturing investments, and economic accomplishments.

Zoom out: Biden's message to fundraisers and supporters — and the outlines of his second-term agenda — essentially are the same proposals he ran on in 2020.

  • Asked what Biden would do with a second term, his campaign pointed to the president’s policy proposals in this year's State of the Union.
  • In that speech he called for closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, improving access to pre-school and community college, and ensuring paid family medical leave — ideas he ran on last time.
  • He's again calling for an assault weapons ban and the need to codify abortion rights in federal legislation.
  • Biden has not embraced some of the recent proposals from more liberal Democrats, such as a gun-control constitutional amendment popularized by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, or a $17-an-hour minimum wage, which is being pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Zoom in: Biden's campaign aides say they aren't overly concerned about his low poll numbers, in part because the team faced dismal numbers before the 2022 midterms, when Democrats performed better than expected.

  • Asked last November what he planned to do differently in 2023 and 2024, Biden replied: "Nothing, because they're just finding out what we're doing…the more they know about what we're doing, the more support there is."
  • Biden frequently mentions his $280 billion Chips and Science Act, which was designed to counter China by investing in America's technology industry.

Flashback: In July 2020, Biden gave a series of meaty speeches to lay out his "Build Back Better" agenda, which called for more than $2.7 trillion for American manufacturing, clean energy technology and infrastructure.

  • He also proposed spending an additional $775 billion for working parents and caregivers.
  • Faced with a 50-50 Senate in his first two years, he had those ambitions trimmed to a $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill and a $740 billion climate and health care bill.
  • Both were significant accomplishments, but smaller than Biden had imagined.

Bottom line: Instead of dwelling on what he didn't accomplish — such as paid family leave or increasing the corporate tax rate — Biden will take a victory lap to remind Americans what he's done.

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