How President Biden can 'turn it around,' according to former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio
President Biden’s latest approval ratings are less than stellar. According to the latest Reuters poll, just 42% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing while 50% disapprove.
Despite the bleak sentiment, former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is confident Biden has time to fix what's broken.
“I think there is time to turn it around,” de Blasio said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “And I think there’s more sense among Democrats the need to get something done, both moderates and progressives. My advice to the president is to recognize that you can’t live in the weeds, which is something I did too often. You can’t just do great work behind the scenes. It’s really important to show your people your work and to provide a unified message.”
The former mayor is no stranger to criticism. During his time leading New York City, de Blasio's approval rating sank as low as 26%. In a recent op-ed for The Atlantic, de Blasio admitted to being “somewhat of an expert” in being unpopular and stressed how Biden and the Democratic Party can learn from his mistakes.
“There’s a lot of common ground that has not yet been tapped into, for example,” de Blasio said. “Both of them focus on the issues of working people. And that’s where the Democratic Party excels. This would be a part of my advice to Joe Biden is, based on my experience, my own mistakes, to get back to that essential message of connecting with working people in their lives.”
Back to Democratic Party roots
While both political parties have unique issues, the Democratic Party has struggled in particular with appeasing both moderates and progressives.
Progressives, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) haven’t been shy about vocalizing what they want from the Biden administration. They’ve been leading the calls for student loan debt cancellation and increasing taxes on the ultra wealthy.
Moderates, on the other hand, like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), found themselves caught in the crossfire between their own party and working across party lines.
“Joe Biden is a very good communicator,” de Blasio said. “[Current NYC Mayor] Eric Adams is a great communicator, and so is AOC. They have common ground there. I think what the Democratic Party needs is to recognize there’s a lot more that unifies us than divides us.”
His suggestion is for the Democratic Party to go back to its roots of advocating for the working class, an area “where Republicans historically have faltered,” he said.
According to the CNN, the number of white working class men who voted Democrat in the presidential election increased by 5% in 2020, while the number of white working class women increased by 2%.
In the meantime, as Republicans decide whether or not to ally themselves with former president Donald Trump, along with committing to the party’s stance on Roe v. Wade, de Blasio believes this creates an opportunity for Democrats to win support.
“I think it’s going to be really tough for Republicans to win the votes of a lot of working class women and suburban middle class women,” he said. “So there’s time to pull these pieces together.”
Additionally, de Blasio said, Democrats need to do better connecting with the working class of different races, including Latino, Asian, and Black.
“A lot of people are still listening,” de Blasio said. “American voters who have become more and more independent minded, they’re less connected just to party identification. Democrats must give more of a clear rationale to those working class voters. I think a lot of them can be won back. I think that’s particularly true among women.”
'A kitchen table issue'
Instead of the infighting, de Blasio said the best approach is to focus on the easy wins for the party.
“I think the president is sitting right now on top of two extraordinary issues to his credit where he has put forward a lot of the right ideas and can turn them into action in time,” he said. “I’ll say it bluntly: Some people will love it. Some people won’t.”
Those two issues, which de Blasio said has a shot of passing through the Senate, are lowering prescription drug costs and placing higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
The Senate has previously tried to pass legislation on these issues but couldn’t get the votes from Sinema or Manchin.
Additionally, de Blasio stressed the importance of showing everyday Americans that someone is on their side through addressing these issues.
Biden “talked about affordable internet,” he said. “That’s great. A few days ago, it was semiconductors. That’s great. Before that, it was Javelin missiles for Ukraine. But what I don’t see is him saying to people squarely: ‘Here’s how I’ll bring down your costs, and that’s what I’m going to focus on because I understand you.’ I think there’s time to do that, particularly on health care costs.”
For Americans, controlling out-of-pocket costs (including prescription drugs) is among the top health care priorities as the midterm elections near, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“What I would say is it doesn’t take everything,” de Blasio said. “It doesn’t take the president achieving everything overnight or on all fronts. What’s necessary is some forward motion on the things that people feel viscerally. They certainly feel health costs very personally. It’s a kitchen table issue. They feel the fairness issue around taxation very deeply.”
“You add that together with some of the very good things the president has done like infrastructure and the sharp contrast with Republicans on issues like abortion,” he added, “and you’re talking about a very different electoral reality six months from now than what we’re seeing today.”
Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells and reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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