A Very Delicate Issue — Joe Biden’s Health; Plus, The Three Amigos Meet Today; Inflation Alert
Author: Greg Valliere
November 18, 2021
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE BIDEN: The President turns 79 on Saturday amid growing speculation in Washington about his health.
WE’RE NOT AWARE of any specific, credible evidence that Biden is suffering from any physical or mental disabilities (he had two brain aneurisms in the 1980s). But the public, perhaps influenced by a drumbeat from conservative media, has concerns.
A NEW POLL FROM POLITICO shows that only 40% of the public believes Biden is in good health, and only 46% thinks he’s mentally fit. These two numbers are about 20 points lower than in polls taken a year ago. The poll also showed that by large margins the public doesn’t think Biden is a good communicator or a strong leader.
WE HAVE SEEN BIDEN over the decades, and it’s clear that he’s lost a few miles off his fastball. He seems frail and the White House frequently has to correct his statements. But we’ve talked with people who have been in meetings with Biden who report that he’s well-informed and articulate on key issues, far more than Donald Trump ever was.
NEVERTHELESS, THIS WILL BE A PERSISTENT ISSUE as Biden enters his 80s a year from now. Will he finish his term? Probably. Will he run again in 2024? Unlikely. Will he finish a second term at the age of 86? Extremely unlikely.
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THE THREE AMIGOS HAVE ISSUES: The leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico will meet in Washington late this afternoon with several major controversies on the table.
MUCH OF THE FOCUS TODAY will be on two major disputes between Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. First, the Biden “buy America” policy has generated concerns from Canadian businesses, particularly over huge subsidies planned for Americans who purchase electric vehicles, which Trudeau called “counterproductive” in a press conference earlier this week.
Second, Biden faces calls from environmentalists in the U.S. to shut down the Line 5 oil pipeline, which extends from Canada through Michigan. Considering the withering criticism of Biden from Republicans over gasoline prices, it’s unlikely that he would shut down a pipeline in the midst of an energy crisis.
BIDEN ALSO MAY FACE CHALLENGES from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador; they have had phone calls but have never met each other. Obrador, a fierce populist, had good relations with Donald Trump.
AT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA WITH MEXICO will be the issue of illegal immigration, which has decreased in the past few months but remains a major political issue for Biden, who will press for more immigration curbs. Obrador is also leery of Biden’s “Buy America” theme, which surely not will include U.S. investments in Mexican energy projects, which Obrador will keep off-limits.
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ANYONE WHO THINKS INFLATION WILL ABATE SOON should take a careful look at the ratified deal between Deere & Company and its 10,000 workers. The pact includes wage increases of 10% this year and 5% each in 2023 and 2025, along with lump-sum payments equal to 3% of wages in the other years of the contract.
WORKERS AND UNIONS HAVE AN UNUSUALLY STRONG bargaining position because of U.S. labor shortages. Other recent settlements at Kaiser Permanente and among Hollywood production workers resulted in generous deals.
IN ADDITION TO THE INITIAL RAISES, this week’s deal contains an $8,500 ratification bonus, preserves a pension option for new employees, makes workers eligible for health insurance sooner and maintains their no-premium health insurance coverage.
THE INFLATION THREAT, IN OUR OPINION, is not necessarily from commodity prices; oil and lumber and grain can go up or down. Wages and benefits are not going down; they only go up — and employers will have to pass along higher labor costs to their customers.
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