A couple of weeks ago, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House was working with Facebook and other social media companies to target accounts spreading misinformation. Reaction to her comments and answers from reporters varied, but the lasting takeaway is that misinformation on social media is killing people because they’re not getting vaccinated.
Biden added to the brief news cycle last week by telling a reporter “They’re killing people,” in response to a question about misinformation about vaccines on Facebook. Biden nailed that soundbite for once, but the episode opened conversations about the slow vaccination rate in the United States and what exactly the White House’s role is when it comes to picking and choosing who gets to say what on social media.
Facebook hit back at the Biden administration too, saying, “The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19. President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.”
The Menlo Park tech giant also said they have removed 18 million “instances of COVID-19 misinformation” since last year.
Vaccinations are quickly turning political for Team Biden. The new Delta COVID-19 variant is causing a variety of responses across the U.S. The frustrations from Psaki and Biden show that the White House could be in the politically vulnerable spot of considering new lockdowns after campaigning on getting America back to normal.
Missing the July 4 vaccination deadline is one in a series of events that show the “dog days of summer” have come early for Biden this year. The unemployment tug of war continues between states looking to get people back to work amid continuing generous unemployment pandemic benefits.
There’s also that more than $4 trillion infrastructure plan the White House and Congress are debating, which is quickly becoming mired in congressional gridlock. Earlier in July, Biden and congressional lawmakers struck a deal to fund $579 billion in more traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, and even broadband.
Biden has said repeatedly that he wants more provisions enacted from his original $4 trillion American Jobs Plan including “human infrastructure” like child care, elder care, and paid leave.
Meanwhile, the White House has been beating the war drum against inflation concerns, too. Consider the news that consumer prices rose five percent since last summer. The White House countered with its unbelievable claim that we should all rejoice the fact that our 4th of July barbecues cost a whopping 16 cents less this summer than last year thanks to Biden policies.
Biden has quipped that government spending will counter what White House economists think is a short-term inflation scare.
Many major financial CEOs do not agree. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jaime Dimon thinks inflation will “be a little bit worse than the Fed thinks.” Business Insider reported that Larry Fink of BlackRock said current economic policies are leading to price increases for consumers and that PepsiCo will increase prices to counter inflation concerns.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified to Congress in mid-July that inflation “will likely remain elevated in coming months” before dropping down. The University of Michigan “Surveys of Consumers” recorded their highest ever complaints from consumers about the rising prices of homes, vehicles, and household goods.
Technically, we are in the middle of the dog days of summer right now. It’s an actual astronomical term invented by the Romans that corresponds to the hottest part of the year, the proximity of the star Sirius, and the constellation Canis Major, to the Sun.
Team Biden is hoping that Congress breaks out of the lazy, hazy days of summer and passes its ambitious agenda before the autumn leaves begin to fall, when votes on raising the debt ceiling threatens to overshadow everything.
Evan Harris is the media relations and outreach manager at PRI.