President Joe Biden defended his administration’s record Friday amid multiple crises, telling the nation he remains “confident” and urging Americans to give it time.
Throughout the summer and into the beginning of fall, Biden’s presidency has been marked by a number of debacles – consistently mixed messaging on the global pandemic, the chaotic exit of American troops from Afghanistan, a potential government shutdown, infighting among Democrats over the Build Back Better plan and bipartisan infrastructure bill, a border crisis and more.
“What do you say to Americans who say that you have not delivered on that promise?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked Biden on Friday, citing the president’s “message of competence and unity” when he first took office.
The president quickly launched into an expansive response that begin with a caveat:
“I said it’s going to take me a year to deliver everything I’m looking at here,” he said.
Biden continued on to blame former President Donald Trump, saying that Americans need to “take a look at what” he “inherited” upon entering office. Biden, in addition to dealing with numerous crises, has seen his approval rating sink lower and lower. A Gallup poll released Wednesday put his approval rating at 43% – a low for his presidency and six points below Vice President Kamala Harris’ rating.
“When I came into office, the state of affairs, and where we were: We had four million people vaccinated. We had no plan. We had – I mean, I can go down the list,” Biden said. (RELATED: Joe Biden’s Week Ended With Two Hours Of Bad News)
The flashback to Trump is a common theme under the current administration. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly blamed the former president for various current crises, from the situation at the border to issues involving the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
Biden defended his economic plan, explaining that it is “overwhelmingly popular” and suggesting the issue with getting it passed is that “not everybody knows what’s in that plan.” He said the plan has the answers Americans are looking for and expressed confidence that the plan will get done “at the end of the day.”
The president also defended the price tags, which have been a point of contention among some Democrats. Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, for one, previously expressed concerns over the $3.5 trillion budget plan and warned that this spending level would have “grave consequences” on future generations.
“It is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or Great Recession — not an economy that is on the verge of overheating,” Manchin said in August.
Publicly, the White House appears to have downplayed these concerns. White House Director of the National Economic Council Brian Reese suggested last week that reports indicating Manchin gave Biden a hard “no” on the bill were simply overblown by “headline writers.”
Biden also pushed back on these spending concerns, saying Friday that the cost is “going to be zero.”
“You know, people, understandably [say], ‘Well, you know, it started off at $6 trillion, now it’s $3.5 trillion. Now it’s – is it going to be $2.9? Is it … It’s going to be zero. Zero,” Biden said. “Because in the – in that plan that I put forward – and I said from the outset – I said, ‘I’m running to change the dynamic of how the economy grows.'”
“It’s all paid for. It’s all paid for,” he added.
The president noted that he “hadn’t planned on” the numerous natural disasters that have hit America over the past few months. The country has seen hurricanes, mass flooding and wildfires. Still, Biden said he “kind of anticipated it might happen.”
“And so, what I had hoped I would be doing, I do what I did in the campaign: I’d be out making the case about what my plan proposal contained. And it’s been very much curtailed by a whole range of things,” Biden said.
Biden said it’s “understandable” that people are “frustrated” and pointed out that it’s not just members of Congress saying they “thought this was going to be better.” He also briefly brought up Afghanistan, telling reporters that he expects the topic to come up during his meeting today with leaders of India, Japan and Australia.
“So, I guess, I think it’s a totally legit – obviously, it’s a legitimate question you’ve asked – but I think, putting into context here, it’s going to take some time here,” the president reiterated.