The Associated Press published the findings of a poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Tuesday that showed Americans believe salvaging the economy is more important than punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
A slim majority of Americans surveyed by the Associated Press, 51 percent, said limiting damage to the U.S. economy should take priority over more effective Russia sanctions. 45 percent of respondents gave the opposite answer. The last time the Associated Press asked members of the American public this question in April, 55 percent said that punishing Russia via sanctions was more important than staving off economic decline. It’s no surprise that the numbers have flipped over the course of about a month. Loose money policies pursued by the government throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have created inflationary pressures that are just beginning to rear their head. The cost of groceries, gas, as well as other forms of energy and essential commodities have surged—a trend that began prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, no matter how many times Democrats claim this is solely “Putin’s price hike.”
Though 44 percent of Americans said they favor sending aid to Ukraine, while 32 percent are opposed and 23 percent are undecided, an even larger plurality, 49 percent, say the United States should only be playing a minor role in the current conflict.
What remains unclear, however, is if respondents believe providing the Ukrainians $40 billion in aid, which Biden approved Saturday, constitutes the U.S. taking a major role in the conflict. Providing aid to Ukraine is one thing, doling out aid to Ukraine that almost matches the annual budget of the U.S. State Department and nearly equals the Ukraine government’s annual expenditures prior to the pandemic, in just the first three months of the conflict, is another.
It’s more bad news for President Biden, whose approval rating reached a new low this week. Just over one-fifth of Americans have “a great deal of confidence” in Biden’s ability to responsibly navigate the situation in Ukraine. Another 39 percent said they had some confidence, while another 39 percent said they have hardly any confidence.
While Biden’s approval ratings are taking a beating, and deservedly so, given he’s the president, American’s discontent isn’t just a matter of a bad economy and an increasingly unsteady geopolitical environment. Their disapproval is ultimately grounded in the failure of our political elites on the left and right to prioritize America’s domestic challenges over fighting the Russians.
Biden alone is not responsible for the bad economy and for the latest massive aid package to Ukraine. In fact, had it not been for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the Senate would have skipped its standard procedures and moved the bill along via unanimous consent. In the end, only eleven Senators, all Republicans, voted against the $40 billion aid package.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, one of the few Senators that voted against the latest aid package to Ukraine, tweeted, “Spending $40 billion on Ukraine aid – more than three times what all of Europe has spent combined – is not in America’s interests. It neglects priorities at home (the border), allows Europe to freeload, short changes critical interests abroad and comes w/ no meaningful oversight.”
“That’s not isolationism. That’s nationalism. It’s about prioritizing American security and American interests,” Hawley wrote in a subsequent tweet.
While Biden’s necessary withdrawal from Afghanistan was poorly executed, many of us on the “new right” thought our drawdown in the Middle East offered an opportunity to refocus on the homeland. Biden’s inability to find a diplomatic solution prior to or in the early stages of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Republican establishment’s willingness to go along with the regime’s latest proxy war, has largely squandered that opportunity.
Washington is hardly ever keen on reevaluating its priorities, which is why things could get a lot worse before they get better.