Will Biden’s Recent Victories Lift the Democrats?

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  • What’s Better, an After-School Program or a Job?

President Biden is still one of the most unpopular presidents in modern history, despite his political victories.Credit…Yuri Gripas for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Basks in String of Wins. Will This Be a Turning Point?” (news analysis, front page, Aug. 9):

The president’s legislative agenda, a close approximation to the one promised, has passed. These are accomplishments, not rhetorical speculations. That the president has low ratings at this juncture speaks volumes not about him — he has delivered, and in under two years — but about the fuzzy-thinking electorate surveyed by pollsters.

Yes, voters are perennially concerned about their purchasing power and the brutal effects of inflation. Americans need to be reminded that presidents do not bring inflation with them to the White House. A complex set of global problems — including a war, a pandemic and supply chain problems — contribute to a disrupted economy.

Americans would do well in this historic moment to stop and smell the proverbial roses: We, as a country, have finally acted on climate change. And drug pricing. And infrastructure. And, incredibly, guns. Much remains to be done on all these fronts. Nothing is perfect, though voters polled seem disappointed that all their wishes don’t come true on Election Day.

President Biden’s poll numbers are low, but let us take a poll of climate activists, people struggling with the cost of drugs, those who understand the truly herculean effort it took to pass the Inflation Reduction Act bill. Would his numbers be higher? I’ll go out on a limb and say they would triple.

Will South
Columbia, S.C.

To the Editor:

As a Democrat who had previously been disillusioned with President Biden’s commitment to working with Congress in a bipartisan manner, I found the legislative and economic accomplishments noted in this article reassuring and worth celebrating.

However, they may not mark a turnaround for the Biden presidency, especially with respect to the coming midterm elections. We can simply revisit the first two years of the Obama administration to see why.

Barack Obama’s legislative, economic and judicial achievements through the second year of his presidency are comparable, if not more remarkable, than those of Mr. Biden. By August 2010, Mr. Obama had already nominated two Supreme Court justices, passed Dodd-Frank and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and signed into law what was arguably his crowning piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

But, as we all know, he and the Democrats suffered substantial losses in the midterm elections of 2010.

So, is Joe Biden on a legislative hot streak? Yes. But will it play to his advantage during the midterms? History suggests otherwise.

Ravin Bhatia
Brookline, Mass.

What’s Better, an After-School Program or a Job?

Credit… BjelicaS/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “The Best Extracurricular Is a Job” by Pamela Paul (column, July 31):

Ms. Paul is right to lament the decline in the number of teenagers who work after school. Teens who work can learn valuable things about themselves and work life that are not readily available otherwise.

Where Ms. Paul goes wrong is in playing down extracurricular and after-school activities. After-school experiences help teens develop soft skills and self-confidence. They also provide credentials for getting good jobs down the road.

In my research, I spoke with dozens of human resources professionals who had conducted mock job interviews with teens who had participated in after-school programs.

The professionals were impressed with the experiences and skills that the teens had acquired and considered many of them to be hirable, even without a history of paid employment. In particular, after-school programs provide opportunities for teens to develop complex leadership skills, something they can rarely do at work.

Teens need sequences of after-school programs and work experiences that build on each other, providing the best of both worlds.

Bart Hirsch
Evanston, Ill.
The writer is professor emeritus of human development and social policy at Northwestern University, and the author of “Job Skills and Minority Youth: New Program Directions.”

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