Republicans are under the impression that now Biden and the Dems are in charge, that voters will blame the President and his party for failing to instantly fix COVID-19 school issues, when it was the Republican failure of the Trump regime that created the issue in the first place by refusing to take the pandemic seriously.
Distraught and exhausted parents are emerging as a new class of voters that could torment President Joe Biden — and the White House is moving quickly to head off the pain.
Nearing a year into the pandemic, Biden’s advisers and allies recognize that they need to respond to the spiraling angst felt by families or risk driving them into the arms of waiting Republicans.
It is a crucial test for Biden and Democrats as they try to consolidate their gains from the 2020 election. The pandemic has disrupted lives and exacerbated inequities and a raft of public and private surveys show clear political potholes and opportunities because of it. The coronavirus is spawning sweeping policy prescriptions from Democrats and Republicans alike, from billions in school reopening funds to the creation of a federal child allowance. And it’s prompting pollsters to loosely coin emerging voter demos like “women in chaos” and “families in crisis.”
Within the GOP, there is a belief that the pandemic and resulting turmoil make Biden and Democratic incumbents especially vulnerable among those demographics. Republicans see room to capitalize on the grim public health and economic situation the White House inherited from Donald Trump by trying to put Democrats on the defensive for being too removed from the pain or too slow-moving to address it.
GOP lawmakers, while offering no commitment to meaningfully engage on policy proposals, have responded to continued school closures by striking hard at Biden and Democrats, with more Republicans each week accusing the administration of scaling back their ambitious goals on everything from testing to school reopenings.
“The science says that the schools should open, but instead of listening to the science, the Biden administration is caving in to Democrat special interest groups,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told POLITICO. “As a result, the education of our children is suffering and hundreds of thousands of working moms are being forced out of the workforce.”
Republicans believe they’ve been aided in their attacks by mixed messaging from the administration on how and when schools should open. GOP officials have circulated several rounds of talking points on schools, with Senate, House and party leaders blasting out criticism on the issue in emails to constituents and the media on a near-daily basis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released long-awaited guidance on the matter, which offered step-by-step advice to reopen classrooms that health officials said was “grounded in science and the best available evidence.”
Republicans have attacked Biden’s school reopening goals as underwhelming, given that the White House has already dialed back expectations for the first 100 days. They are preparing to “hammer away” at the schools issue, including charging that Democrats have dragged their feet on reopenings to appease powerful school unions, according to an RNC official.
Even as more schools resume robust in-person schedules, the stress imposed on families by months of distance learning won’t soon fade.
“Their proposal buys into the myth from Big Labor that schools should stay shut a lot longer,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week of Biden’s “rescue” package.
White House aides and close allies acknowledge that getting kids back into classrooms is a thorny political challenge thanks to its visceral toll on families. But they insist they’re following the advice of scientists and health experts to keep children safe. They have framed their approach as part of a comprehensive, emergency effort to address several interrelated problems with necessary funding.
In interviews, they made the case that the president’s $1.9 trillion rescue package — which includes direct payments, funds for pandemic relief and money to safely reopen schools and fund local government — will be welcomed by voters because it will work.
“President Biden isn’t going to rest until students are back in school five days a week, and if Republicans agree, they should match their words with action and support the president’s Rescue Plan, which will get schools the resources they desperately need to reopen safely,” said Michael Gwin, a White House spokesperson.
The problem for the GOP is fourfold: they helped create the problem with schools in the first place, they haven't had a solution for a year, they are 100% against Biden's solution, and nobody believes they give a damn about moms out of work or kids in general.
I have a very hard time believing that the party that says the economy is doing "too well" right now and that we can't afford stimulus checks to American families is going to pick up millions of voters between now and November 2022.
Well, unless Democrats manage to not pass COVID-19 relief. Then that's a real possibility.