With the banking system seemingly stabilized, President Joe Biden is hoping he can return to pitching his economic credentials to the public.

But his “Investing in America” tour, an apparent precursor to a 2024 reelection campaign and a political counterpoint to former President Donald Trump‘s legal problems, comes amid persistent inflation, another interest rate hike, the surprise collapse of two regional banks, and the potential that his administration will not be able to avoid a recession.


The country will reject Biden’s overtures regarding the economy, his “reckless” budget underscoring “how out of touch his administration is with reality,” according to the Republican National Committee.

“Paychecks are worth less, the cost for everything is up, and Biden’s $6.9 trillion tax-and-spending spree will only worsen the economic burden on families,” RNC spokesman Nainoa Johsens told the Washington Examiner.

Biden’s average economic job approval tends to be lower than when pollsters ask respondents about his overall performance, according to RealClearPolitics. Biden’s average economic approval is net negative 20 percentage points, 38% to 58%. The statistical spread for his overall rating is a narrower net negative 9 points, 43% to 52%. An average of 27% of respondents tell pollsters they consider the country to be heading in the right direction, while 63% say it is on the wrong track, a net negative 36-point differential.

Biden had sought to change public perception about his economic management in January when December inflation data indicated consumer prices had eased the most during any month since the start of the pandemic. But then sticker shock during the first four weeks of the year, published in February, was higher than economists expected, interest rates continued to rise, and there was a run on deposits at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

Some Democrats contend “extreme,” “radical” MAGA Republicans” could mitigate economic concerns as, they claim, it did during last year’s elections after the Supreme Court overturned abortion precedent Roe v. Wade through its opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. House GOP candidates were anticipated to sweep the chamber as they did during former Presidents Bill Clinton‘s and Barack Obama‘s first midterm cycle. Instead, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) only has a four-seat majority.

The economy is always important in presidential elections, not the only factor but an important one, according to Democratic strategist and pollster Mark Mellman.

“If it’s going well, the incumbent party is rewarded,” the Mellman Group president and CEO said. “If it’s going poorly, the incumbent is punished. But again, it’s far from the only factor — especially if Trump is on the ballot.”

That comparison will be even more pronounced next week as the New York grand jury impaneled by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg reconvenes on Monday to discuss whether Trump should be indicted with a misdemeanor or felony charge for falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her discretion concerning their sexual encounter.

For Third Way think tank co-founder and Clinton administration alumnus Matt Bennett, there is “zero doubt” the economy will be the “most important” issue next year, at least according to polls.

“But voters don’t act like robots — they don’t make purely optimized decisions based on issue preference,” Bennett said. “Instead, they vote on a feeling — which candidate do I trust? Which shares my values and understands my life?”

“The candidate and their party’s approach to the economy will play a big role in that but so will other things — fears about access to abortion, gun violence, etc.,” he added. “In 2022, voters in most close races chose the candidates they viewed as mainstream over the one they felt was extreme. If Republicans nominate a bunch of radicals again in 2024, and especially if a MAGA radical leads their ticket, that will be a big part of the calculus.”

Biden will roll out the three-week 20-state administration-wide Investing in America tour next Tuesday, with the president traveling first to a North Carolina chips manufacturer.

“The tour will reinforce what’s at stake for hardworking families across the country if Republicans in Congress get their way and repeal the Inflation Reduction Act and slash funding for manufacturing, research, and innovation,” a White House official said. “The tour will also coincide with the two-week April recess in Congress, and many of the stops on the Investing in America tour will include stops with members of Congress who were instrumental in getting these bills passed.”


Biden still has not announced his reelection bid despite speculation he will in April based on historical precedent and fundraising disclosure deadlines.

“The president has said many times that he intends to run,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters this week. “I’m not going to go beyond that. That is for the president to decide, clearly.”

Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to Africa on Saturday with stops scheduled in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia during her week-long tour of the continent. This trip comes as reports have been swirling about President Joe Biden‘s unhappiness with her performance.

Harris is traveling with her husband, Doug Emhoff, and is scheduled to arrive on Sunday in Ghana’s capital of Accra.


She plans to discuss economic development, regional democracy, climate change and food security. Harris told reporters earlier this month that she planned to go to Africa to focus on “climate resilience and adaptation.”

Kamala Harris

FILE – Vice President Kamala Harris answers a question about her upcoming trip to Africa, after swearing in Eric Garcetti as Ambassador to India, Friday, March 24, 2023, in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

On Friday, reporters asked her how she was preparing for her first trip to Africa and she said she has been “bringing in experts” and “reading a lot.” She expressed optimism about “what the partnership will produce” between the U.S. and Africa.

Harris’ itinerary will include three nights in Ghana, two nights in Tanzania and one in Zambia. She plans to give a speech and visit a recording studio in Accra, make a visit to the historic Cape Coast Castle and lay a wreath to commemorate the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Tanzania.

This trip will be a test of Vice President Harris’ ability to step up for the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts and will help boost her foreign policy credentials. Former anonymous Biden White House employees have reportedly expressed President Biden’s frustration with her inability to “rise to the occasion.”

“A point of tension in their relationship is that I don’t think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate [due to] a fear of messing up,” one former White House official said.

Harris’ high profile trip to Africa highlights the Biden administration’s efforts to diplomatically attempt to counter China’s growing influence in the continent.

China has been actively courting African countries for their resources and helping build infrastructure and provide economic incentives in exchange. The country recently built two state-of-the-art international airports and launched a hydropower station in Zambia.

Zambia is an important exporter of raw materials which are key to China’s growing economic ambitions.

US Africa Summit

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a working lunch during the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP

Fred Mmembe, the president of Zambia’s Socialist Party questioned the purpose of Harris’ trip.

“It’s not democracy and human rights they are pursuing in Africa. They are pursuing their geopolitical interests; they are pursuing their own economic interests. It is not for us, it is for them,” Mmembe said.


First lady Jill Biden recently went on a five-day trip to Namibia and Kenya in February to promote democracy and raise awareness of drought and food shortages. While in Africa, she admitted in an interview that she was “all for” her husband running again in 2024.

The death of a former Obama official on a private jet earlier this month could not have been due to turbulence caused by the weather, the National Transportation Safety Board announced.

Dana Hyde, 55, was flying home from a trip visiting schools with her husband and son. They were flying on a Bombardier BD-100-1A10 (Challenger 300) airplane when she was killed in an incident originally blamed on turbulence. A preliminary report from the NTSB, however, ruled out that possibility. The report said that the force that killed her was several times the force of gravity. Instead, the incident is being blamed on a series of blatant pilot errors and technical difficulties. The airplane was not damaged, and the four others on the plane were unharmed.

Dana Hyde, John Dramani Mahama, Seth Terkper, John Kerry

FILE – Dana Hyde, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, participates in the Ghana Compact signing ceremony during the US Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department in Washington on Aug. 5, 2014. Investigators said Friday, March 24, 2023, that Hyde, a passenger on a business jet, was fatally injured in early March when the aircraft violently bucked up and down after pilots disconnected a system used to stabilize the plane. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP


The flight started with an aborted takeoff, and when the plane finally did get into the air, the pilots were bombarded with alerts. Going down a checklist, the pilots switched off a mechanism used to stabilize the plane. That turned the autopilot off when no one had their hands on the controls.

“As soon as the switch position was moved, the airplane abruptly pitched up,” the report read. “The [pilot-in-command] reported that his left hand was on the flight controls and his right hand was guarding the right side of the flight controls. He immediately with both hands regained control of the airplane in what he estimated to be a few seconds after the airplane’s pitch oscillated up and down. During the oscillations, the PIC instructed the (second-in-command) to move the stabilizer trim switch back to the primary position, which the SIC accomplished.”

In the few seconds that the pilots lost control of the plane, the plane shook up and down violently.

“The airplane immediately pitched up to about 11° and reached a vertical acceleration of about +3.8g [3.8x the force of gravity]. The airplane subsequently entered a negative vertical acceleration to about -2.3g. The airplane pitched up again to about 20° and a vertical acceleration of +4.2g was recorded. The stall protection stick pusher activated during this pitch up; subsequently, vertical acceleration lowered to about +2.2g,” the report continued.

“Four Gs. That’s four times your body weight. Objects that were 100 pounds were now weighing 400 pounds, and moving in an up or down direction,” Jeff Guzzetti, a former accident investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB, told the Washington Post. “That’s a tremendous amount of G force for an airplane to experience.”

Soon after regaining control, the pilots were notified that there was a medical emergency among the passengers. After attempting to perform first aid, the other pilot was told that they needed to land. The plane was greeted by paramedics, and Hyde was rushed to the hospital. She succumbed to her injuries the same day.

It was not stated whether or not Hyde or the other passengers were wearing seat belts at the time of the incident.


Both pilots were experienced, with the PIC recording 5,061 total flight hours, including 88 hours in the accident make and model airplane, and the SIC recording 8,025 total flight hours, including 78 hours in the accident make and model airplane.

Hyde served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and she served as counsel to the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the United States’s preparedness in the lead-up to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, her Columbia World Projects biography said.

A missing painting of former President Donald Trump was found outside an electrical room in a Trump Hotel in Miami.

The painting was one of 100 gifts from foreign governments that went missing at the end of Trump’s presidency, according to a report from Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.


Standing over 8 feet tall, the painting was found tucked away at the hotel thanks to an anonymous tip to the New York Times, which had just done a profile on its artist. The portrait was a gift from Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele to Trump during his last year in office.

The tip was from a man and his son who had gone snooping around the property out of curiosity roughly five months ago. The outlet reported that it remained in good condition, though the purple yoga mat it is sat on appears to be rotting away.

“I‘m going to tell you what my heart feels as an artist,” artist Francisco Antonio Lopez Benavides told the outlet when asked how he felt about the finding and odd location of his art.


“I am happy that the painting is intact, it is beautiful, precious,” he said. It “is my greatest wish that everything will be better in the world and that this painting will be with President Trump, because it is a gift from my president, Nayib Bukele, and I am a part of it. We are all President Trump and President Bukele.”

Between 2017 and 2019, the Trump administration reported 76 foreign gifts received by Trump, 41 by the first lady, 15 by former senior adviser Jared Kushner, and 12 by Ivanka Trump. However, the administration hadn’t reported any gifts given during Donald Trump’s last full year in office. Democrats are demanding that the gifts be located and returned in accordance with the law. Any gifts Trump wants to keep must be paid for at their appraised value.

President Joe Biden raised eyebrows during his remarks to the Canadian Parliament when he misspoke and thanked China for cooperating with the U.S. regarding record levels of Western Hemisphere migration.

“So today, I applaud China for stepping up,” Biden said Friday before correcting himself. “Excuse me. I applaud Canada. You can tell what I’m thinking about China. I won’t get into that yet.”


Biden had been alluding to his updated Safe Third Country agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address irregular migration.

Biden’s mistake was not the only awkward moment during his 30-minute speech. During his introduction, he quipped about not supporting the NHL team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I have to say, I like your teams except the Leafs,” Biden said to boos. “I’ll tell you why — they beat the Flyers back in January, that’s why.”


First lady Jill Biden backs the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Bonjour, Canada!” the president also said. “I must tell you, I took four years of French in school. First time I attempted to make a speech in French, I was laughed at. So that’s as good as I can get right now.”

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are holding a joint press conference in Ottawa, Canada.


Biden and Trudeau announced earlier that they had reached a deal to deter illegal immigrants from crossing into the United States from Canada after a surge in recent months.


The trip to Canada marks Biden’s first since becoming president more than two years ago and included bilateral meetings with Trudeau. Biden also addressed the Canadian Parliament while in the country, becoming the eighth U.S. president to do so.

The Washington Examiner’s Kaylee McGhee White said Friday she does not blame President Joe Biden for being frustrated with Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I don’t blame Biden for being frustrated with his vice president,” White told the crew of Outnumbered. “The guy probably just wants to take a nap, and yet, he’s playing cleanup for Kamala all the time because she can’t be trusted to do anything right.”


Biden has been vexed by the performance of Harris and reportedly believes she has failed to “rise to the occasion.”

“A point of tension in their relationship is that I don’t think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate [due to] a fear of messing up,” one former White House official said.

“If he did not think she was capable, he would not have picked her. But it is a question of consistently rising to the occasion,” another said. “I think his running for reelection is less about her and more about him, but I do think that she and the Democratic bench [are] a factor.”


Harris’s poor job performance is “amazing,” according to White.

“You’re handed this pretty job as vice president for doing nothing other than being the first black female vice president that Biden could get his hands on, and she can’t get anything right,” she said. “Politics can’t be that difficult of a job, but she messed up the border. She messed up all of her foreign relations assignments, and so, what is she doing? She’s just trying to avoid the camera at this point.”

The White House is homing in on healthcare as a potential winner for President Joe Biden and Democrats amid the debt ceiling standoff and before next year’s elections.

No longer a political albatross, Biden this week celebrated the 13th anniversary of Obamacare after last week promoting his administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug prices and, the week before that, his plan to shore up Medicare. But the prospect of a drug shortage could undo his endeavors.


The White House has been underscoring healthcare, recently prioritizing Biden and Democrats’ criticism of Republicans who have proposed cutting Medicare over their attacks on GOP lawmakers who are amenable to reforming Social Security before a possible default this summer. The slight shift in focus amplifies the perception Republicans are weaker on healthcare issues before the 2024 electoral cycle, according to former GOP strategist-turned-Claremont McKenna College politics professor John Pitney.

“Democrats have ‘owned’ the healthcare issue for many years, and GOP messaging on health issues has largely failed,” Pitney told the Washington Examiner. “Expect Democrats to air a version of this 2012 ad, perhaps with a Rick Scott lookalike in place of Paul Ryan,” he added of the Agenda Project’s “Granny Off the Cliff” spot, the Florida senator, and the former House speaker. “As for Social Security, Democrats have that one in reserve, too.”

As the economy contends with stubborn inflation and the surprise collapse of two regional banks, Biden showcased Democrats’ strength on healthcare during the White House Obamacare event in which he described the law as “the most consequential piece of healthcare legislation since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.”

“While the Affordable Care Act has been called a lot of things, Obamacare is the most fitting description,” he said Thursday. “I remember three words I used at the time. I thought it was a big deal, and I stand by the fact that it was a big deal.”

Voters initially thought differently, handing Democrats a massive defeat in the first midterm election since the law passed. Then-President Barack Obama described that result as a “shellacking,” but in recent years, the law’s popularity has improved.

The White House emphasized that message, with spokeswoman Robyn Patterson alleging “extreme MAGA Republicans are still dead-set on repealing the health coverage that 40 million Americans rely on.”

“It’s the Affordable Care Act’s 13th birthday. But extreme MAGA Republicans are having their own party to determine how best to raise the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance while ripping health coverage away from children and middle-class families,” Patterson told reporters. “Extreme MAGA Republicans can’t seem to settle on a budget plan. But whichever one they pick will be a five-alarm fire that threatens the health and safety of millions of Americans.”

Part of the White House’s approach can be attributed to the fact its own budget fails to address Social Security, instead pitching that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund be reinforced by increasing the Medicare tax rate for people earning more than $400,000 a year from 3.8% to 5% and the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund through savings from the Inflation Reduction Act’s prescription drug negotiation provisions.

During remarks in Las Vegas last week, Biden pointed to a new report that found 3.4 million Medicare recipients would have saved an average of almost $70 per person in 2021 had the Inflation Reduction Act’s free vaccines program been enacted already. The law additionally requires prescription drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise their prices faster than inflation, as happened with 1,200 drugs last year alone.

“The good news is that Eli Lilly, the biggest insulin maker in the United States of America, announced that they’re going to answer my call and they’re going to make the — this insulin available to everyone in America for $35,” he said. “And, yesterday, [Novo Nordisk], another drugmaker, announced they’re cutting their price of insulin as well.”

At the same time, Republican strategist John Feehery noted Biden and Democrats’ own Medicare Advantage policies. House GOP leadership-aligned 501(c)(4) organization American Action Network, for instance, has spent $2 million on TV and digital advertisements underlining how Democrats diverted $300 billion from Medicare in 2022, citing the Congressional Budget Office, and how the president’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CY 2024 Advance Notice could decrease Medicare Advantage benefits by $540 or 29% per enrollee on average next year.

“They believe that the best defense is a good offense,” Feehery, a lobbying firm EFB Advocacy partner, said. “They are cutting Medicare Advantage, and they want to accuse the Republicans for cutting Medicare to insulate themselves from Republicans who should be attacking them not only for trying to hit Medicare advantage but also for hypocrisy.”


Simultaneously, the White House is amid a drug shortage, with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists advising the situation, affecting inhalation drug albuterol, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medication Adderall, and even common cancer treatments, is the worst it has been for a decade because of supply problems and increased demand.

“We are tracking these shortages of various drugs and are taking them very seriously,” a Biden spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner. “[The Food and Drug Administration] is tasked with monitoring and addressing supply disruptions and is working closely with numerous manufacturers and others in the supply chain to understand, mitigate, and prevent or reduce the impact of these shortages — using every lever at its disposal. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to ensuring Americans can access the medicine they need.” 

The White House is invoking Adam Smith against congressional Republicans ahead of a showdown over the debt ceiling.

“Goodbye invisible hand — and hello angry MAGA fist?” That was the opening line of a statement by White House spokeswoman Robyn Patterson appended to President Joe Biden’s veto message after he blocked a Republican anti-ESG bill.


“Meddling in private markets through adherence to an extreme MAGA ideology prevents fiduciaries from making fully informed investment decisions,” she wrote. “It jeopardizes the hard-earned life savings and pensions for tens of millions of cops, firefighters, teachers, and other workers across the country.”

Those firefighters may come in handy against a budget proposal by a group of House conservatives. “The extreme MAGA Republican House Freedom Caucus proposal will be a five-alarm fire for families — including by hurting seniors,” the White House said in a statement.

“We [will] use this week to show how the MAGA House Freedom Caucus budget proposal will be a five-alarm fire for hardworking Americans,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing.

Earlier that week, Jean-Pierre said: “The Freedom Caucus’s MAGA Budget Proposal is a Five-Alarm Fire for hardworking families. Extreme MAGA House Republicans would endanger public safety, raise costs for families, ship manufacturing jobs overseas, weaken our national security, and hurt our seniors.”

A separate White House official teased “a fact sheet with new analysis highlighting the five-alarm fire that the House Freedom Caucus proposal means for seniors across the country.”

Biden’s team first ratcheted up the rhetoric in the run-up to the midterm elections, during which Democrats avoided the massive losses some forecasters predicted. But Republicans took the House, setting up a series of legislative and policy confrontations between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The debt ceiling is going to be the most important of these fights. The GOP wants to lower spending in exchange for raising the statutory borrowing limit. Biden wants a clean increase in the debt ceiling, which the White House points out was granted under former President Donald Trump, without haggling over spending cuts.


House Freedom Caucus members talk to reporters about the federal debt limit during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 22, 2023 in Washington, DC. The conservative Republicans were critical of President Joe Biden’s federal budget proposal and repeated their slogan, “shrink Washington and grow America,” while demanding that spending cuts go hand-in-hand with raising the debt limit.
(Graeme Jennings / Washington Examiner)

This dispute is also not purely performative or a mere set-up for the elections in 2024, when House Republicans will be defending their majority and Biden will likely be seeking a second term. There are economic ramifications if officials fail to extend the debt ceiling by sometime this summer, and a previous showdown along these lines (when Biden was former President Barack Obama‘s vice president) resulted in a credit downgrade, even though a deal was struck to avert default.

The president would obviously reap some political benefit from being able to pin a similar setback on Republicans. Nevertheless, he needs a healthy economy to give him the best chance to win reelection.

Biden and his deputies have been arguing for months that Republicans are holding the debt ceiling hostage to force draconian budget cuts, especially to popular entitlement programs. Their target has long been Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and his proposal to sunset federal laws after five years, which he has since amended to exempt Social Security and Medicare.

Now it is the Freedom Caucus and its spending cut demands that have set the White House ablaze rhetorically. “It cuts veterans benefits,” Biden said of the group’s budget in his remarks at a Democratic National Committee reception. “It won’t cut subsidies for Big Pharma.”

It is a bid to divide the Freedom Caucus from the rest of the House GOP conference — and perhaps Senate Republicans. The latter approach worked once in the omnibus fight, allowing Democrats to set spending levels prior to losing control of the House.


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) hasn’t released the GOP’s budget proposal yet despite Biden and Democratic congressional leaders practically baiting him to do so. Consequently, the Freedom Caucus’s blueprint fills the vacuum and allows Biden to try to define Republicans on spending.

The White House communications team is increasingly doing so with a certain amount of flair, extending the MAGA critique (the product of a six-month study led by senior adviser Anita Dunn) to GOP budget-cutters.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made an appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday as he seeks to revitalize his image following the Ohio train derailment.

Buttigieg testified before a Senate committee on his department’s budget. And as he’s done since the derailment controversy went national, he pointed to regulations as a solution.


“Questions arose in the wake of East Palestine from people who asked a very reasonable question looking at that horrific smoke column and fireball coming out of the vinyl chloride controlled burn,” Buttigieg said, “that if this train did not meet the legal or technical definition of a high-hazard flammable train, what would?”

After 50 train cars derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, and subsequently caught fire, vinyl chloride, phosgene, hydrogen chloride, and other gases were emitted into the air and water. The train crashed on Feb. 3 while traveling from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, and burned throughout the weekend. Buttigieg did not publicly address the disaster for 10 days.

New Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) later released a lengthy statement demanding answers and providing constituents with resources to get help, while Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) called for Buttigieg to resign. Vance and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also sent Buttigieg a letter requesting more information on the Department of Transportation’s “oversight of the United States’ freight train system.”

They were notably joined by progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who called for “direct action” from him to address the tragedy.

While the sharpest criticisms emerged from the Right, the incident did damage Buttigieg with Democrats, argues party strategist Brad Bannon.

“He does need to rehabilitate himself,” Bannon said. “But he has at least two more years to do so.”

Most money has yet to be doled out from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Congress passed last year. Dispensing that money will give Buttigieg the opportunity to connect with Democrats across the country, Bannon argues, which will be plenty of time to put the Ohio incident behind him.

Train Derailment Ohio

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, near the site of the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
Matt Freed/AP

While the GOP has focused on his response to the disaster — Buttigieg eventually visited on Feb. 23, one day after former President Donald Trump — Buttigieg has responded by saying Trump is to blame.

“We’re constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation (like the braking rule withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 because of a law passed by Congress in 2015),” the transportation secretary tweeted. “But we are using the powers we do have to keep people safe.”

GOPers argue that the regulations would not actually have prevented the accident and would not have applied to the train in question, though Buttigieg has continued to make it in the weeks since.

Several Democratic senators alluded to the derailment and the need for more regulations during Thursday’s hearing, and while Republicans on the committee complained about various budget proposals, none directly challenged Buttigieg on whether regulation would have prevented the accident.

Buttigieg enjoys an unusually high profile for a transportation secretary owing to his background. After being elected mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he launched a presidential campaign and won the Iowa caucus before dropping out to endorse eventual President Joe Biden. After winning the presidency, Biden named Buttigieg transportation secretary, and he’s often mentioned on a short list of names as a future Democratic presidential nominee.

But the White House has found itself defending Buttigieg more often than praising him over the last two years.

The transportation secretary generated headlines in October 2021 when it was learned that he had been on paternity leave for two months and again more recently for his use of private jets and role in the Federal Aviation Administration’s massively disruptive software system outage.

He has also come under fire for what critics perceive as political statements that fail to address crucial issues, such as his 2021 claim that there is “racism physically built into some of our highways.”

In the interim between the Ohio train derailment and his first public statements about it, Buttigieg said at a conference that there were often too many white workers on construction projects in “neighborhoods of color.”


But Buttigieg’s more recent calls for increased regulation are likely to connect with voters, Bannon argues, especially after the Silicon Valley Bank collapse Democrats have also blamed on regulation rollbacks.

“Most voters think that regulations are necessary to regulate business,” Bannon, who thinks Buttigieg remains very much in the mix for 2028, said. “The Democrats are in a good position to sell that argument.”

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