Biden-Harris ‘Help is Here’ roadshow kicks off with 3-minute talk, zero questions

President Joe Biden’s visit to a Pennsylvania flooring company on Tuesday, as he kicked off a “Help is Here” tour to sell the $1.9 trillion spending bill he recently signed, was criticized on social media for its brevity.

“President Biden is kicking off his roadshow to sell and explain to voters his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. He starts with a visit this afternoon to a small business outside Philadelphia,” Bloomberg News White House correspondent Jennifer Esptein wrote on Twitter with a link to her co-written story.

The spending plan was largely billed as a COVID relief measure, but Republicans have said just 9 percent of the nearly $2 trillion in spending will actually go to provide businesses and individual Americans with economic and other relief. To that end, less than $56 billion was earmarked for small businesses that have been struggling for a year under varying degrees of lockdowns.

Biden visited Smith Flooring Co., a minority-owned business that has gotten a pair of Paycheck Protection Plan loans funded by previous COVID relief bills signed by former President Donald Trump.

Vice President Kamala Harris, meanwhile, traveled to Nevada on her first stop to see the plan. Bloomberg News reported that she will reunite with Biden in Georgia by week’s end “to pitch the measure.” Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia are key battleground states.

But it was the short duration of Biden’s visit that drew the attention of many.

The New York Post reported that the president only spoke to the owners for about three minutes before reporters were told to disperse. Also, The Post noted that during his brief encounter, he barely discussed the American Rescue Plan.

“More help is on the way, for real. Do you have questions for me — at all?” Biden asked after a few words about the plan.

Co-owner Kristin Smith said, “We don’t have any questions but we wanted to say thank you,” going on to note that “not many people come out and stop here in Chester.”

Biden made a campaign stop in Chester in October. Also, as The Post noted, Biden’s Wilmington, Del., home is about a half-hour from Chester, where he spent the night for the fourth time since taking office Jan. 20.

During his briefing, the president didn’t talk about the most prominent provisions in the spending package such as the $1,400 payments to most Americans — roughly a quarter of the entire package — or the $350 billion earmarked for many Democratic states and cities. He also didn’t mention the additional $300 in weekly federal unemployment payments that now last through September. He did, however, note the $120 billion-plus set aside for schools.

Co-owner Jason Smith mentioned, “it was great the schools got funding so now the schools can do some construction.”

“No, that’s a big deal,” Biden responded.

Biden earlier this month said he wanted to aggressively promote the spending package. He said that former President Barack Obama was too “modest” to promote his massive spending bill shortly after he took office when the housing and financial crisis was just beginning, which ultimately cost Democrats politically.

“Barack was so modest. He didn’t want to take, as he said, ‘a victory lap’. I kept saying, ‘Tell people what we did.’ He said, ‘We don’t have time, I’m not gonna take a victory lap.’ We paid a price for it ironically, for that humility,” Biden said.

Separately, social media users are still reacting to a video clip of the preparation that went into Biden’s speech at the Pentagon earlier this month as he praised the promotions of two female generals.

 

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Jon Dougherty

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