How Joe Biden will increase his reelection chances by fixing these five everyday annoyances
President Joe Biden has lately focused on solving relatively small — but highly annoying — everyday problems that Americans face.
Most notably, he’s begun to tackle what his administration refers to as “junk fees,” which range from overdraft fees to unexpected fees that arise when you’re buying tickets to a concert or a sporting event.
“You shouldn’t have to pay an extra $50 to sit next to your child on the plane, pay a surprise ‘resort fee’ for a hotel stay, pay $200 to terminate your cable plan, or pay huge service fees to buy concert tickets,” Biden recently tweeted. “That’s why my Administration is taking action to curb them.”
This example is instructive. Doubling down on this effort could be an effective way for Biden to solidify his support with swing voters around the country ahead of his 2024 general election battle against Republican Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis or any of the several other underdogs vying for the GOP’s nomination.
After all, Biden’s chances of getting any big pieces of legislation passed before the 2024 election — Republicans control the House — are limited. But he can press more pedestrian priorities that the average American will appreciate. “I’m the president who killed spam phone calls” isn’t a bad campaign slogan.
Biden has already shown he can get some bipartisan bills passed, the recent debt ceiling deal chief among them. So if he pushes the right issues, he might be able to get some of these changes done through Congress. Other changes might simply rely on the use of executive orders or government agencies more aggressively enforcing existing laws..
Raymond La Raya, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says that Biden shouldn’t count on fixing minor problems winning him the election, but it could help at the margins.
And in a close race, candidates win on the margins.
“At the end of the day, the election is about the state of the economy and whether independent voters can stomach Trump again,” La Raja says. “The small-ball stuff that Biden focuses on is safe and reassuring to potential swing voters, and it avoids the culture wars these voters hate. Biden is trying to cultivate an image that he’s thinking about them.”
Considering how close the presidential election can be in swing states, La Raja says Biden has to do whatever he can to appeal to these voters.
Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University, says this move by Biden is something we’ve seen before.
“It’s kind of similar to what we’ve seen before from an incumbent. For example, when Obama was coming up on his reelection campaign in 2012 they used the term ‘no drama Obama.’ I think what you’re seeing here is something similar,” Abramowitz says.
Abramowitz says it’s all about presenting a “clear contrast” with Trump and the rest of the Republican Party. While they’re screaming about critical race theory and Trump’s indictments, Biden can just be the consistent, above-the-fray president who’s getting things done that matter to people.
Here are five of Biden’s most promising people-first plays:
Bank overdraft fees
No one likes them, and they punish people for not having enough money by making them go into some debt. Polling shows 84 percent of Americans want the government to get banks to get rid of them, and it’s hard to hit that number on any political issue. Luckily, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has started working on ways to fix this.
The CFPB released a guidance in October of last year saying certain overdraft fees are “likely unfair and unlawful under existing law.” Those fees include ones that are derived from a check bouncing or when someone charges their debit card and the amount they charged goes beyond the available balance.
The Federal Communications Commission has been working on this, but I just got one, and you might have already received 10 today. So they haven’t solved the problem yet. The majority of Americans don’t answer their phones anymore because they’re worried about robocalls, so it’s clearly a problem that generally everyone is dealing with.
The FCC says it is committed to “using every tool at our disposal and working closely with private, public, and international partners to combat unlawful robocalls and spoofing.” The agency has fined multiple companies responsible for robocalls. Perhaps if it goes after enough of these companies or Congress passes new legislation, we can finally be rid of these calls. But it will likely take Biden using his bully pulpit to make it a priority.
Spam phone calls have become a plague for many Americans. Rokas Tenys/Shutterstock
There are legal monopolies throughout this country when it comes to who provides us our electricity, natural gas and other necessities, and people complain about the lack of choice all of the time. Biden should consider attempts to break up some of these companies or find other ways to increase the number of options available to the average consumer. This would likely be accomplished by passing new antitrust laws or possibly just enforcing existing antitrust laws at the federal level. Further incentivizing home solar generation to help reduce energy costs is another attractive option.
One thing Biden is already working on that he should really push for is getting rid of the fees so many of us end up paying when we just want to go to a concert. Ticketmaster may advertise a ticket for $35 on the website, but you end up paying more than $50. These massive ticket companies are hated by most, especially Taylor Swift fans, and Biden should rein them in. This is a bipartisan issue that Biden and Congress might actually be able to address. Evidence of this came earlier this month, when Biden announced a tentative deal with Ticketmaster and Live Nation for them to voluntarily disclose fees up front, starting later this year.
Singer Taylor Swift (image via Wikimedia Commons).
Biden should also rein in the rideshare companies. Too often, you need to get somewhere fast, and a ride that would usually cost $10 is now $40 because of “surge pricing.” I don’t remember there being surge pricing when I used to ride in a taxi, and it’s not fair to people who rely on semi-predictable pricing to balance their personal budgets. Congress could pass legislation that limits how much these companies can raise prices.
If Biden can do these kinds of things and more, it’s possible that the swing voters around this country might look upon him a little more fondly, and perhaps that will lead him to victory in 2024. It could show that Biden is actually interested in the problems people are dealing with all the time while the Republican Party is obsessed with the culture wars.
- 'Tough to beat': Charlie Kirk predicts Joe Biden victory in 2024 ›
- 'Unprecedented show of solidarity': Major labor unions endorse Biden for 2024 ›
- RNC roasted over 'very weird choice' to use AI in first video response to Biden’s 2024 announcement ›
- Seeing ‘Red’ after Taylor Swift debacle, lawmakers weigh new policies - Alternet.org ›