His first venue will be a primetime address Thursday night, a direct-to-camera reckoning on a year of pandemic that aides say will still lean heavily into positive signs the country is slowly emerging from crisis -- fueled along, he'll say, by the contents of his new law. The legislative lifeline, while extraordinary in scope, is only a temporary solution to pull America from its crisis. A legacy-making program along the lines of a modern-day New Deal for Biden would require an even more difficult measure of political capital. Mindful of the nation's collective weariness at pandemic forced restrictions -- illustrated in part by polling conducted for Democrats and viewed inside the White House -- the President's speech will be his most forward-looking toward reopening, an aide said.
Biden will spend the ensuing weeks firing up Air Force One to fly around the country highlighting where the bill's effects will be most felt, an effort designed to sell people outside Washington that it is in part because of his plan that vaccinations are speeding up, schools are reopening and life is starting to look like normal, according to people familiar with the plans. After avoiding one, Biden will likely convene his first formal news conference in the coming days to help advance his ideas. He's waited longer than any president in the past 100 years to do so. And likely next month, he will speak to a joint session of Congress to lay out his next steps, which the White House says are still being developed but will likely include a push on infrastructure, climate and making permanent the provisions that ease burdens on families. That is likely to require tax increases, making its passage a tougher sell but solidifying its larger effect on American society. The President has taken the 2009 stimulus as a cautionary tale, telling White House officials and fellow Democrats that he doesn't want to repeat what he believes was a mistake the Obama administration made in not selling that plan to Americans. "We didn't adequately explain what we had done. Barack was so modest," Biden told House Democrats last week. "I kept saying, 'Tell people what we did.' He said, 'We don't have time. I'm not going to take a victory lap.' And we paid a price for it, ironically, for that humility." The sales job isn't merely self-promotion. Because of the narrow scope required to pass the bill through a budget process, many of its benefits expire -- like increased subsidies for health insurance and an expansion of the child tax credit -- after a year. Making them permanent will require another act of Congress that would likely need some Republicans on board.
Biden and his advisers have wagered Americans will welcome the expanded benefits and punish Republicans who work to block them from becoming permanent next year, just as the 2022 midterm elections loom. "We're still thinking through the contours of what's going to be in that next package," Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters Tuesday.