IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Biden has his best day in months, and that could help Democrats in November

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 27, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 27, 2022.Andrew Harnik / AP

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... GDP report finds the economy shrank by 0.9% in 2nd quarter. ... President Joe Biden, after recovering from his bout with Covid, delivers remarks on the economy. ... Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer strikes spending/tax deal with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. ... Alex Lasry drops out of the Democratic Wisconsin Senate primary, endorses Mandela Barnes. ... And Democrat John Fetterman has the ad-spending advantage in Pennsylvania Senate.

But first: Sometimes, when it rains in politics, it pours — like what President Biden has experienced over much of the last year.  

Yet other times, the rain stops, the clouds disappear and the sun finally comes out — even if it’s temporary (see today’s GDP report). 

That was Biden’s Wednesday, when he announced his in-person return to work after testing negative for Covid; when the Senate passed legislation boosting domestic production of computer chips; and when, most significant of all, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled their deal that spends billions on climate and energy, shores up the Affordable Care Act, raises taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and reduces the deficit. 

NBC’s Benjy Sarlin breaks down the numbers: 

  • $739 billion in new revenue (via 15% corporate minimum tax, prescription drug reform, IRS tax enforcement and ending the carried interest loophole).
  • $433 billion in spending ($369 billion on energy and climate, $64 billion for ACA subsidies past the 2024 election).
  • More than $300 billion in deficit reduction.

And if that passes — more below on what may be the final obstacle — Biden can add that legislative victory to his Covid relief law, the bipartisan infrastructure law, the bipartisan gun reform and potentially a revision to the Electoral Count Act.  

Not bad for a 50-50 Senate. Not bad at all. 

And this all matters for November, because Biden’s path back to a 45% job rating starts by getting disaffected Democrats back on board and gives them an additional reason to vote in the midterms. 

It was roughly a year ago, in July-Aug. 2021, when Biden’s political troubles started — when he declared independence from Covid, when he downplayed inflation and when Afghanistan happened

But could July-Aug. 2022 be the time when Biden’s rebound begins? Just as Donald Trump’s political and legal problems mount? 

Tweet of the day

 Data Download: The number of the day is … $3,187,273

That was the ad-spending discrepancy between Pennsylvania’s two Senate hopefuls, Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz, from after the May 17 primary through Wednesday, per ad-tracking firm AdImpact. 

While Fetterman has spent $2.2 million on TV ads and almost $1 million on digital ads since then, AdImpact has tracked just $20,000 in digital spending by Oz since the primary. But Oz will return to the airwaves today — thanks to a $381,000 joint buy with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

It’s the latest race where the NRSC has gotten involved early to help a nominee get up on the air, and comes as Democratic Senate nominees hold a massive ad-spending advantage over their GOP rivals

Other numbers to know:

17: The number of Senate Republicans who joined almost every Democrat in supporting a bill aimed at increasing computer chip production in the U.S.

$1 billion: How much gun manufacturers made selling assault-style weapons, per the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

$219,000: How much Republican Blake Masters donated to his Senate campaign per a new campaign finance filingahead of Tuesday’s primary.

4: The percentage-point margin of the Democrats’ generic congressional ballot lead over Republicans in the new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll, even as a plurality also want a Congress that mostly stands up to President Biden. (Remember, the generic ballot tells us some things, but it doesn’t tell us everything.)

0.75: The percentage-point increase in the interest rate made by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday as it continues to try to put the brakes on inflation

$3.8 billion: How much JetBlue will be buying Spirit for in a move that will create the fifth-largest airline in the country. 

Midterm roundup: The shrinking field in Wisconsin

The Democratic Senate primary field in Wisconsin shrunk for the second time this week when Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry made the surprise announcement that he was dropping out of the race. Lasry then endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who has led the field in recent polling. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson also ended his campaign and backed Barnes earlier this week. 

That leaves Barnes and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski as the top two candidates in the primary. Godlewski stressed Wednesday that she’s staying in the race, saying, “If there’s one thing that I always know, I’ve been underestimated.”

The two Democrats will face off on Aug. 9, with the winner taking on GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Alaska Senate: GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s latest TV ad ahead of her Aug. 16 primary touts her support from Alaskan fishermen.

Georgia Senate: Republican Herschel Walker’s campaign spent $694,000 on a TV ad buy, per AdImpact. He had previously been on the airwaves as part of a joint ad buy with the NRSC. In his new ad, Walker says that Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has “lied about me, my business and my work with veterans.” 

Pennsylvania Senate: Mehmet Oz was also the subject of a The Daily Beast report that he had not previously disclosed that he owns an apartment in New Jersey, and its residents are two of Oz’s friends who are associated with Turkish nationalist groups. 

Florida Governor: Some Florida Democrats are frustrated that EMILY’s List and Ruth’s List, two groups that traditionally support women candidates who support abortion rights, have not backed Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s gubernatorial bid, NBC News’ Marc Caputo reports. 

Michigan Governor: Save Michigan PAC, a super PAC founded by former gubernatorial hopeful Michael Markey, announced Wednesday it was backing Republican Tudor Dixon in the GOP primary, Fox News reports. The group reserved $103,000 worth of airtime on Wednesday, per AdImpact.

Pennsylvania Governor: The founder of the far-right social media site Gab, who has done consulting work for Republican nominee Doug Mastriano, responded to recent allegations of anti-Semitism by telling the New York Times that both he and Mastriano only want to speak to Christian news outlets and reporters.

Wisconsin Governor: Former Vice President Mike Pence backed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in the GOP gubernatorial primary, bucking Trump who has endorsed businessman Tim Michels.

New York-19: The National Republican Congressional Committee is hitting the airwaves in a special election in New York’s 19th District, launching a joint $100,000 buy with Republican Marc Molinaro, per AdImpact. 

Washington-03: Trump-backed Republican Joe Kent, who is challenging GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, has ties to right-wing extremists, the Associated Press reports. Herrera Beutler voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6. 

Wyoming-At Large: GOP Rep. Liz Cheney’s latest TV ad features footage from a primary debate of Cheney’s opponents casting doubt on the 2020 election. 

Ad watch: Democratic primary in Missouri heats up

The GOP Senate primary in Missouri has garnered national attention ahead of the state’s primary next week, but Democrats running are starting to throw punches on the airwaves, too.

In a new ad, Marine veteran Lucas Kunce attacked nurse Trudy Busch Valentine, an heiress to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune, for being out of touch with regular voters.

“There are two candidates running for U.S. Senate. We’re both pro-choice, we’re both raised in Missouri, but one candidate grew up here and the other grew up here,” Kunce says in the ad, highlighting the difference between two homes of different sizes. 

“One’s family is worth $16 billion, the other was bankrupted by medical bills,” Kunce continues.

He also highlights Busch Valentine’s participation many years ago in the Veiled Prophet ball, a St. Louis-area elite event that’s been criticized for racist origins. After launching her campaign, Busch Valentine apologized for her participation in the ball.

This week, Busch Valentine launched an ad denouncing the “despicable attacks by Lucas Kunce” and saying “he sounded like a Republican” when he ran for office last in 2006. 

With less than a week to the primary, Kunce has spent over $1.9 million on the airwaves and Busch Valentine has spent over $3 million.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Washington Post reports that California Rep. Adam Schiff is weighing a bid for House Democratic Leader if Speaker Nancy Pelosi retires. 

Hulu will now allow political ads, after Democrats criticized the streaming platform for rejecting ads focused on guns and abortion.

NBC News’ Adam Edelman delves into next week’s abortion rights vote in Kansas, the first such vote since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

ABC reports that the RNC will stop paying Trump’s legal bills if he announces a presidential bid.

Former Republican and Democratic officials are launching a new political party.