Consumer confidence has increased. Fears of recession are decreasing. The economy is growing. And a damaged bridge in Wisconsin is getting more money.
It’s a wintry mix of positive news for President Biden, who on Thursday headed to the shore of a bay near Lake Superior to stand at the foot of the Blatnik Bridge, a structure his administration said would cost $1 billion. Without it it would have failed by 2030. The infusion provided by bipartisan infrastructure legislation that Mr. Biden supported.
The president is scheduled to talk infrastructure and the economy, and to talk about his predecessor and potential challenger in the general election, former President Donald J. Was there to compare his performance with Trump.
“Our economic growth is stronger than it was during the Trump administration,” Mr. Biden, dressed in a casual pullover sweater, said as he addressed Wisconsinites gathered at the Earth Rider Brewery in Superior, Wis. “We clearly have more work to do.” But we are making real progress.”
As the president spoke, Mr Trump was defending himself in a defamation trial in New York, offering a striking split-screen comparison that the Biden campaign has welcomed.
Mr. Biden and his advisers believe projects like Blatnik’s, taking place in the backyards of Americans living in battleground states like Wisconsin, could be enough to boost optimism and dispel widespread skepticism about the state of the economy. Are.
At his event, Mr. Biden talked about $6.1 billion in investments in Wisconsin and $5.7 billion in Minnesota, located just upstream of the bridge, that support agriculture, shipping and forestry industries in the Upper Midwest. The Blatnik, which spans St. Louis Bay and connects the ports of Superior and Duluth, Minn., was damaged and blocked by construction and detours.
“People have talked about replacing this bridge for decades, but it never happened,” Mr. Biden said. “Till today.”
Bipartisan legislation or not, no Republican lawmakers gathered to welcome Mr Biden. (“I regret to say that the vast majority voted against it,” Mr. Biden said, a number that includes Representative Tom Tiffany, a Republican representing the district where the bridge is located.)
The Democratic governors of both Wisconsin and Minnesota attended. “This couldn’t have happened without Biden,” Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers told attendees.
Several other Democrats, including Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota and Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, accompanied the president as he toured the bridge and, afterward, met with people in a taproom next to the brewery. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota sat next to Mr Biden and sipped a glass of beer.
Even the no-nonsense Republicans who are increasingly closing their ranks around Mr. Trump have other headwinds to overcome.
Mr Biden has faced low approval ratings on the economy. And he has been criticized by other Democrats over whether it was wise for him to embrace Bidennomics as a nominal effort to take credit for an economy that Americans have repeatedly signaled they care about. Don’t feel excited.
Mr Biden did not appear to be in any trouble on Thursday. At the brewery, he stood in front of a pole with “Bidenomics” written on it and attacked Mr. Trump for “hollowing out communities, closing factories, leaving Americans behind.”
For his part, Mr Trump has attacked Mr Biden on almost everything, but has also falsely claimed that lower employment numbers are not real under the Biden administration.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen took a rare aim at Mr Trump during a speech in Chicago.
“Our nation’s infrastructure has been deteriorating for decades,” Ms. Yellen said Thursday. “In the Trump administration, the idea of doing anything to fix this was a punchline.”
There was truth in his comment. During Mr Trump’s presidency, he often turned away from infrastructure-related speeches to attack his enemies. At his first Infrastructure Week-themed event in 2017, he presented the James B. Comey, whom he fired as FBI director, was accused of perjury and leaking news to the media. He later proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure package, without explaining how he would get the money. The phrase “Infrastructure Week” became a joke in Washington.
In November 2021, Mr. Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law.
“Instead of a week of infrastructure, America is having a decade of infrastructure,” Mr Biden said on Thursday, referring to work done by his administration.
In a show of how important Wisconsin will be ahead of the November election, Mr Biden traveled there just three days after Vice President Kamala Harris launched a nationwide tour for reproductive rights at an event outside Milwaukee. Wisconsin is a battleground state where his campaign is focusing on attracting black voters, young voters and any voter who can help him snatch the state’s 10 electoral votes from Mr Trump.
Although Mr Trump was in court, the Republican National Committee issued a statement criticizing Mr Biden for making the trip and blaming Bidennomics for the economic problems.
“with staggering inflation And negative economic growthRonna McDaniel, the group’s president, said in a statement that Wisconsinites are feeling the brunt of Joe Biden’s failures. “Try as we might, it is too little, too late to impact the workers and families who are living paycheck to paycheck for Bidennomics.”
alan rapport Contributed reporting from Washington.